Three cases of COVID-19 were reported in people associated with St. Paul Education Schools over the Family Day weekend.
According to division superintendent Glen Brodziak, there are two confirmed cases at Racette School and one confirmed case at Ashmont School.
The two cases at Racette are both students according to a letter released by the division on Feb. 14.
“Based on the information we have right now, it is our understanding that there was not any in-school transmission,” said Brodziak.
He said because of the cold snap the province has been experiencing for the past several weeks, the number of staff and students who now have to isolate after being close contacts with any of the three cases is relatively low.
“Buses weren’t running throughout the division because of the cold weather we’ve been having, so I would say between 15 and 20 staff and students are now isolating at home,” said Brodziak.
He said all the necessary calls were made over the long weekend. Those who have been identified as close contacts will need to isolate for approximately another 10 days.
“If you have not heard from us, your child was not part of the impacted cohort and no isolation is required.”
A letter from Alberta Health Services distributed to parents reiterates that “the risk of the general population in the school becoming infected because of these cases is low.”
AHS recommends frequent hand washing with soap and water, as well as cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and bathroom taps.
“Stay home if you’re sick. If your kids are sick, keep them home from school,” reads the letter.
Assumption Jr./Sr. High School in Cold Lake is also closed for in-person classes until Feb. 24.
Schools in Alberta have a combined total of 861 cases since in person classes resumed on Jan. 11. Approximately 11 per cent of schools currently have active alerts for outbreaks of COVID-19.
According to the information released by Alberta Health on Feb. 16, as of Feb. 15 there are 25 active cases in Lac La Biche, 43 in Bonnyville, 20 in Cold Lake, 19 in St. Paul, 25 in Smoky Lake, three in Two Hills, and eight in Vermilion.
Across the region, the death toll now sits at 36. Eight in Lac La Biche, eight in Bonnyville, three in St. Paul, nine in Smoky Lake, two in Two Hills, and six in Vermilion.
According to Assistant Director of Communications for Alberta Health, one of the deaths reported over the weekend was a man in his 90s linked to the Extendicare Outbreak in Bonnyville.
In her COVID-19 briefing Feb. 16, Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported that the positivity rate had increased to five per cent over the weekend. She called the increase concerning, but said it is possible the increase is because of changes in who went for testing and said the province will be watching closely to see if it is an isolated finding or a concerning trend.
Hinshaw said the lab is identifying an average of 12 new variant cases of COVID-19 each day and said she is particularly concerned about “the growing number of cases not linked to travel.” She said they are actively monitoring the emerging research on COVID-19 variants to determine if current guidelines or approaches need to be changed.
There are 4,993 active cases in the province, including 365 people in hospital and 56 in the ICU. Nine deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.
According to Hinshaw, indoor social gatherings will continue to be banned until step three of the province’s path forward plan.
“Evidence shows that it’s in these social get togethers where we see the highest rates of transmission. We saw the start of our last spike following Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the gatherings that went along with these holidays. So while it’s been incredibly difficult for many of us to not gather with their loved ones indoors I believe this sacrifice has had the biggest impact on reducing spread in the province, relieving the pressure on our healthcare system, and getting us to the point we are at today,” she said.