All Alberta educators are being asked to get tested for COVID-19 before classes are back in session. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says with school re-opening in less than three weeks, the need for testing is greater than ever, especially for front line education workers.
“I am recommending that all teachers and school-based staff, even without symptoms, should get tested once before school begins in September, and regularly throughout the year.”
She says while it is entirely voluntary, testing of staff in school settings will help the province create a baseline understanding of school re-entry, and ultimately, Hinshaw adds, allow Alberta Health Services to even more closely monitor the virus in the coming year.
Despite expansions in testing since it began, Hinshaw notes the system simply can’t collect and process the 90,000 school staff and teachers across the province. She adds that a staggered approach will allow them to as quickly and efficiently as possible get through those test results, in addition to the normal volume of tests they collect daily.
Nearly 15 per cent, or around 600,000 Albertans, have been tested at least once for COVID-19. Dr. Hinshaw says she is thrilled to see the number of tests, as it not only a powerful tool that she says helps limit the spread of COVID-19, but potentially protects people from infection.
Hinshaw adds one of the more eye-opening stats from the latest testing figures shows that of the 316,000 asymptomatic tests completed since June, the positive test rate sits at 0.1 per cent. Hinshaw says while that is a good sign, it does pose one problem.
“This testing shows that broad, asymptomatic testing isn’t primarily useful in identifying new cases, but it can aid the response against COVID-19 as it does help track the virus.”