Families demand improved safety as new COVID variant in Calgary schools raise alarm

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While the schools have not been named, it’s believed at least one of the students was infected by a traveling parent.

Alberta Health Services is now asking all family members — including children — living with someone in quarantine after travel to self-isolate for 14 days.

Hinshaw added that contact tracing is also being ramped up, and screening for new variants is being increased to 300 samples a day.

But Karin Gerritsen, a data scientist with kids in the public school system, argues the province needs to do more around safety and follow the lead of European nations that have provided better masks, ordered more social distancing and kept older kids studying online.

“These new variants are an avalanche waiting to happen. This is a third wave and it is here, and we are naive if we think we are immune from what has happened in Europe.

“Countries like Germany are making sure people wear three-layer masks in public.

“But all we have here in Alberta are the cheap cloth masks the government gave us. I know those masks, my kids have them and they are terrible, very thin, and they do not fit properly.”

Gerritsen, who researches COVID data out of Europe, said it took the UK variant eight weeks to get from being only 10 per cent of COVID cases to being more than 80 per cent.

“This is how fast this variant spreads and becomes the dominant strain.”

But Hinshaw said AHS is not considering providing better masks for Alberta students and staff, and no new protocols are expected to improve physical distancing in schools or having older students, who are more likely to catch contagious variants, learn from home.

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