Parent Notification of COVID-19 at School
As COVID-19 case numbers rise across the province, our communities and schools are experiencing a corresponding increase. Parkland School Division has been working very closely with Alberta Health Services’ COVID response teams regarding cases that may be connected to schools.
As positive case numbers rise due to community spread, there can be confusion as to whether or not a school should notify families. There will be scenarios that arise where contact tracing and case investigations have determined that individuals were either deemed non-infectious while they attended school OR their infectious period with the virus came at a time when they were not in attendance at school. (Example, over a 48-hour period during a weekend, on Fall Break, etc.) In both of those scenarios, Parkland School Division, following communication protocols from AHS, will determine that classrooms and school communities will not be notified of the positive case due to the fact that there was no connection or risk to the students/staff, and to respect the privacy of the individual involved.
There will be situations in which an individual has tested positive for COVID-19 and the school community finds out through other individuals, organizations, event organizers or social media. In some of these cases, the school may not notify families because the individual has been determined to be NOT infectious while at school. To be clear, Parkland School Division will directly communicate with the family of any student who has been determined to be a close contact to an infectious individual while at school. The AHS case investigation will always determine whether or not a case has been infectious while at school regardless of where the initial exposure to the virus occurred.
If an individual has been determined to be infectious while at school, Parkland School Division adheres to Alberta Government’s sector guidance for School Re-Entry. Close contacts of the positive case will receive a direct notification with self-isolation requirements. A separate all-school notification will be sent to the entire school population via email for the first positive case at a school. This is followed by additional updates via school website news items for subsequent cases. Should AHS declare an outbreak at a school (2 - 4 cases at a school), Parkland School Division will issue an outbreak notification and that school will be included in the provinces reporting*, which can be found at:
*Alberta government’s tracking is for those cases in which the individual was infectious while at school.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) directly notifies close contacts of cases of COVID-19 confirmed in three priority groups only:
- health care workers,
- minors (parents will still be notified by AHS if their child is exposed at school); and,
- individuals who live or work within congregate or communal facilities.
Albertans who are not within the priority groups listed above, who have tested positive for COVID-19, are asked to identify their own close contacts of the exposure.
For more on the non-school Contact Tracing process, please visit the Alberta Health Services website at:
In some cases, there are delays before any notification may happen. These delays may be attributed to the following:
- When the positive case showed symptoms
- When the COVID-19 test was administered
- How long it took for results to come back to the positive case
- There's a 48-hour window that AHS deals with involving the Early Detection and Response Teams, the Communicable Disease Control teams and finally when an investigator gets assigned to the case
- Sometimes, when schools haven’t been contacted within this timeline, it could mean one of three things:
- AHS has been unable to contact the case/parent/guardian;
- the person does not have confirmed COVID-19; or
- the individual was not at school while infectious.
For more information, check out the news item on PSD’s website COVID-19 In Schools.