Schools in the Calgary region are seeing a large share of the province’s total recorded COVID-19 school outbreaks as Dr. Deena Hinshaw reminds students that their actions outside the classroom matter as much as those inside.
Since January, the province has been declaring two different types of outbreaks at schools – those with five to nine cases, and those with 10 or more.
Calgary and area schools now make up more than half of all schools in the province with outbreaks of 10 or more cases, and each of those schools has reported at least one new case to parents since the beginning of the month.
According to the province’s website, Calgary has 11 schools with outbreaks of 10 or more cases. The nearby community of Cochrane also has a second-tier school outbreak with 10 or more cases.
By comparison, Grand Prairie has four schools with 10-plus case outbreaks, while Edmonton and Red Deer each have three schools at that level.
The schools in Calgary reporting outbreaks of 10 or more cases include Dr. Gordon Higgins School, Nelson Mandela High School, Forest Lawn High School, Father Lacombe School, Bowness High School, St. John XXIII School, Crossing Park School, Lester B. Pearson High School, Calgary Islamic School Akram Jomaa Campus, Sir Winston Churchill High School and Pacekids Programs South.
On Monday, Bowness High School moved all students to online classes in response to an outbreak. That move is expected to last until March 17.
Other schools with outbreaks remain open, with only affected classes or cohorts moving to online learning.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said she’s heard concern from contact tracers that outbreaks at Bowness High and Bow Valley High School in Cochrane may have been due to a gathering outside of school hours.
“There has been a concern floated that that may have happened, but I have not received information if that’s been confirmed or not,” said Hinshaw.
She said in school-age populations, it’s behaviour not just inside of school but outside that helps prevent the spread of the virus.
“Anyone who might be considering having an indoor gathering needs to remember that a single indoor gathering can cause the spread of COVID-19 from one person to many overnight, and that’s something that can have ripple effects to many other people.”