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Not all parents may be told of COVID cases linked to their children's school, health officials say – Terrace Standard

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Health officials won’t likely notify the parents of all children who attend schools where a student who has tested positive for COVID-19 this fall.

Officials with Fraser Health say they will tell staff, and those parents of children, “considered likely or potentially exposed to COVID-19, who therefore may be incubating the virus.”

But everyone at the school is “unlikely” to be told that someone who attended the building has been diagnosed with the virus, Fraser Health officials said in an email sent to The News.

“If Fraser Health Public Health were to identify a positive COVID-19 case connected to a school, they would first determine if there was an exposure at the school during the person’s infectious period,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Those notified, Fraser Health said, “would likely include those within a learning group or cohort, but unlikely the entire school population due to COVID-19 plans that the school would have in place.”

In the event of a positive test, health officials will speak to staff to “determine the transmission risk” and the potential exposures.

Fraser Health said: “Every time there is a positive test in B.C., Public Health connects with anyone who may have come into contact with the case so they are aware and can be monitored for symptoms.”

RELATED: Abbotsford school district releases back-to-school plan

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More than 1,850 Calgary students and staff self-isolate due to COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of students and staff at Calgary schools are currently self-isolating due to potential exposure to COVID-19. 

Schools reopened in-person classes just a few weeks ago. As of Monday, there were 126 confirmed cases at 81 schools across Alberta.

Of those schools with positive cases, 19 are classified as outbreaks, which means there have been two or more positive cases at the school.

Once a case is confirmed, the current protocol is to have an entire classroom self-isolate for the mandated 14 days. 

I recognize that having an entire class isolated has a significant impact on parents and families, and I understand that there’s frustration on the lack of ability to plan.– Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Alberta Health is not currently tracking the total number of students and staff affected, but Calgary’s two school districts were able to share how many in each community have been ordered to quarantine.

As of Monday afternoon, 1,400 students and more than 90 staff with the Calgary Board of Education were self-isolating. 

The Calgary Catholic School District could only provide numbers accurate to Thursday, when 356 students and 22 staff were self-isolating. 

Those numbers do not include students home with symptoms like a cough, or runny nose.

Across Alberta, about 742,000 students are enrolled at more than 2,400 schools. In Edmonton, at least 1,000 students and staff were in isolation as of Friday.

Thousands of parents across the province are also faced with potentially needing to stay home from work, find child care or educate children at home with little warning, after a positive case in the classroom. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on Monday that she has heard concerns from parents about the impact of their children suddenly needing to isolate for two weeks. 

“I recognize that having an entire class isolated has a significant impact on parents and families, and I understand that there’s frustration on the lack of ability to plan,” she said.

“Right now we are taking a very cautious approach, so when there is a single infectious case in a classroom, that entire class is asked to stay home for that 14-day period, and we are watching very closely our experiences with those class cohorts to understand how we can be more targeted so we don’t have to have the whole class stay home in future.”

Even if students test negative for COVID-19 after a classmate tests positive, they can’t return to class until the 14-day period is over as it could take time for the illness to manifest.

What’s really critical for schools is that schools don’t become a place where transmission happens.– Dr. Deena Hinshaw

Hinshaw said there are important health benefits to children from being in school, and said the numbers of school-aged students who have tested positive overall is more of an indicator of community case counts than in-school transmission.

To date, three schools have recorded cases of in-school transmission of the coronavirus.

Hinshaw said the number of weekly cases in school-aged children hit its peak when the province hit its highest case-count in mid-April, when 216 children aged five to 19 had COVID-19. At that point schools had already been closed for weeks. 

Since schools reopened, numbers in that age group increased to 183 in the week of Sept. 9 to 15, and decreased this past week to 122.

“What’s really critical for schools is that schools don’t become a place where transmission happens,” she said. 

She also said the province is working to increase testing speeds for students who are self-isolating due to displaying symptoms of COVID-19, so they can quickly get back to class.

“We recognize that getting test results as quickly as possible, and getting tested as quickly as possible, both of those are really important.”

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Health officials to release new COVID-19 forecast as infections rise across country – CBC.ca

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Canada is at a “crossroads” in controlling COVID-19 and actions of individual Canadians will determine whether cases continue to rise or can come under control, according to the latest projections from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

Federal health officials presented new modelling today that shows the epidemic is accelerating nationally.

If the current rate of contacts is maintained, the epidemic is forecast to resurge, but if that rate of contacts increases, it is expected to resurge “faster and stronger.”

Rapid detection and response to outbreaks are key to controlling transmission of the virus, modelling documents from PHAC show.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Tam and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo are joined by Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand at a news conference in Ottawa at noon. 

CBC News is carrying it live.

The last modelling figures were released on Aug. 14. At that time, Canada’s top doctors said they were striving for a best-case scenario but preparing for the worst: a so-called “fall peak” of COVID-19 cases across Canada that threatens to overwhelm the public health-care system.

Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officials said they were aiming for a “slow burn” scenario, in which the number of cases remains low to ensure the public health-care system can deal with the influx of patients.

But officials were also planning for a “reasonable worst-case scenario,” where a fall spike in infections is followed by ongoing peaks and valleys that put excessive demands on the health system.

The fall rise in cases coincides with the flu and cold season, potentially putting added strains on hospitals and other health resources.

Health-care workers have already been working on the front lines for several months and are now bracing for a possible spike in hospitalizations, prompting concerns about potential burnout.

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Ontario pediatricians caution on imminent crisis with rolling out flu shot | News – Daily Hive

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A group representing more than 1,400 Ontario pediatricians is cautioning “an imminent crisis” in rolling out the flu shot.

A recent online petition by members of the Ontario Medical Association are “expressing our urgent concerns regarding an imminent crisis in influenza vaccination.”

They note that more children were hospitalized last year with the flu than have been with coronavirus to date.

The group said that with the pandemic, there could be “unprecedented strong interest” among parents for the flu shot. There will also be the difficulties of the flu and coronavirus occurring at the same time in communities, and obstacles with physicians delivering vaccinations safely due to high demand.

“COVID-19 remains a growing and unpredictable threat. Not only do we want to prevent our children from getting sick with the flu, we also must prevent them from making others around them sick,” the petition adds.

In order to avoid this, the group is asking for the uptake of flu vaccine to rise from “the usual 30-35% of the population to much higher levels, especially for young children and infants over six months of age.”

In order to assist with the problem, the petition notes that Ontario pediatricians and other community physicians are willing to assist in planning large scale, community-based flu vaccination clinics.

This would allow the flu vaccine to be administered quickly and to a large part of the population, while also ensuring they’re stocked with PPE.

“These clinics could potentially be part of COVID assessment centers staffed by public health and community pediatricians and other volunteer physicians,” the group notes.

From 2019 to 2020, there was a total of 42,541 flu cases in the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Daily Hive has reached out to the Ontario Ministry of Health for comment and will update the article accordingly.  

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