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Changes to illness absence reporting in schools

Fri, 23 Sep, 2022

News item: Changes to illness absence reporting in schools

We’ve almost finished our first full month of school, have settled into our routines and look forward to the months ahead. 

I want to let you know about changes to how we’re receiving information about illnesses, like respiratory, gastrointestinal, rashes and other illnesses in our schools, as compared to the previous two years.

Alberta Health Services is returning to the school absence reporting process they used before the COVID-19 pandemic. If more than 10 per cent of the school’s student population is away due to illness, the school will report that to Alberta Health Services, who will investigate whether it meets the criteria for an outbreak.

If Alberta Health Services confirms a school is in an outbreak due to illness, letters will be shared from the health authority to the school community. This letter will outline the nature of the outbreak and recommendations for families on how to minimize the spread of the illness.

Alberta Health Services will also provide guidance to schools about any possible changes that need to be implemented, like postponing field trips, minimizing use of shared equipment, and cleaning protocols.

If your child is going to be absent from school, due to illness, it is important you let their school know. When reporting your child’s illness, please consider sharing symptoms they are experiencing, whether they have tested positive for COVID-19 or any other relevant information. 

Safe learning spaces

Our Division continues to focus on creating learning environments that keep everyone as safe as possible, which includes:

  • Hand hygiene: Schools will continue to promote and support good hand hygiene practices. Hand sanitizer will be placed in high traffic and high touch areas throughout the school. Families may also choose to add individual personal hand sanitizer to their child’s list of school supplies.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting: Schools will continue to use cleaning and disinfecting products that help mitigate the spread of illness.
  • Staying home when sick: When someone is sick, staying home is one of the most effective ways to keep others from getting sick. Students, families and staff should monitor for symptoms of illness prior to coming to school. If you have symptoms, please stay home.
  • Sick room: Schools will continue to have a designated sick room space for students who develop symptoms of illness while at school. Students exhibiting symptoms of illness will be sent to the sick room and their parent or guardian will be contacted to make arrangements for the student to go home.
  • Masks: Masks are an effective strategy to mitigate the spread of airborne viruses. The use of masks at school is encouraged, though the decision to wear a mask or not is the personal choice of each student or staff member. Each person’s individual choice will be respected.
  • Communicating illness absences: The Division remains committed to transparent information around absences due to illness and will continue to post the daily absence rate for each school, including parent reported absences due to COVID-19.
  • Additional measures: Similar to last year, the Division continues to extend the runtime of our ventilation systems before and after school and portable HEPA filtration systems remain in all classroom and learning spaces to enhance protection of the spread of viruses.

We all continue to play a role in keeping one another safe and healthy. Thank you for your partnership and commitment in this work.

Superintendent Darrel Robertson