COVID-19 symptomatic students to require negative test before returning to class: Hinshaw
EDMONTON -- Students with symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to get tested and only be allowed back into class after a negative result, according to Alberta's chief medical officer of health.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw outlined the police while discussing the province's back-to-school plan with Education Minister Adriana LaGrange during a Facebook Live stream on Tuesday night.
"If it is negative and as long as their symptoms don’t change and they remain roughly the same as they always are, then that child would not be sent home,” she said.
Dr. Hinshaw noted that some children have frequent COVID-like symptoms due to allergies, and added that it would be up to parents to assess their children's health.
"As long as there's no change, they can continue going to school."
Should a student or staff test positive, close contacts of that individual would also be required to quarantine.
The province announced its decision to resume in-class learning for the 2020-21 school year last Tuesday after debating three options, including partially returning to school or continuing to learn from home.
The provincial government has given school boards guidelines for how to reopen during the pandemic. They suggest staggering start times, having student cohorts, and having regular cleaning, screening and sanitization. They even suggest masks when physical distancing isn't possible, but none of it is considered mandatory.
"We are taking the guidance of Dr. Hinshaw," said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. "At this time her recommendation is that we do not need to require masking."
"I won't be mandating specifics to school divisions, that's where the local autonomy comes in," said LaGrange.
The education minister has given schools the green light to dip into their reserves to pay for PPE, but Edmonton Public says that money should be used in the classroom, and not on cleaning supplies.
"To use that money for cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers is just not acceptable in my mind," said EPSB chair Trisha Estabrooks.
With support staff laid off, schools are already going in shorthanded, but space is the biggest issue. And the higher the grade, the worse it gets says Estabrooks.
Edmonton Public says "home schooling will be an option" but like the health guidelines, every division will have something different.
"That is going to be our biggest challenge, how do we set up our classes so kids can be two metres apart, and I'll be honest there'll be situations where that will not be possible," said Estabrooks.