Rocky View Schools (RVS) says the sheer volume of COVID-19 cases in the province is limiting the ability of provincial contact tracers to investigate the cases in school jurisdictions in a timely fashion so the school district will start doing it themselves.
In a letter sent out Tuesday (November 10) to parents and guardians in Rocky View Schools, Superintendent Greg Luterbach said as cases continue to climb across the province and region they are seeing an increase in the number of cases impacting schools and buses. Because of that, the division is changing their COVID-19 positive case notification process to inform close contacts and families faster.
In the letter Luterbach says while AHS (Alberta Health Services) contact tracing teams are doing their best to keep up, the numbers are limiting their ability to investigate and inform schools in a timely manner. Right now it's taking between five and seven days for AHS to confirm if a student or staff member in a school that tests positive for the virus was contagious while at school or on the bus. To let the individual's close contacts or parents of close contacts be aware sooner, as soon as RVS learns of a positive test from the individual or their family, the school division will identify who, according to their records, may have been in close contact with that person and inform them immediately.
Those who are potential close contacts are required to isolate at home and wait for further direction from AHS. Once RVS has confirmation from AHS that the individual was contagious while at school or on the bus they will provide the health authorities with the necessary information so that AHS can email families with further information, including the date the isolation can be lifted. If AHS determines that the positive individual wasn't at school while they were contagious, the school will email families and let them know that the person's close contacts can go back to school immediately.
The letter goes on the say that RVS recognizes that notifying close contacts sooner will likely result in isolating for longer periods but believes it's necessary to protect staff and students and limit the spread of the virus in RVS schools and communities.
Screening for illness continues to be an essential part of RVS' safety strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, the Alberta School Status Map shows RancheView School in the Town of Cochrane as the only RVS school under Watch Status with five or more cases of COVID-19. Three other, Herons Crossing and George McDougall High School in Airdrie and Cochrane High School are listed as having outbreaks of between two and four cases. As of November 5, Luterbach said there had been 43 positive cases of COVID-19 in Rocky View Schools but that was prior to the large surge in the number of cases in the past week.