Province launches online map to track COVID-19 cases in schools

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw (Government of Alberta, Flickr Creative Commons)
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A new online map will show schools across the province where two or more cases of COVID-19 within a 14 day setting where the virus could have been acquired or transmitted.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says as of September 8th, 16 cases have been officially reported from 16 schools across the province. She adds the map will hopefully help in easing the stress felt by parents, and will also take any speculation out of the equation.

“I know there is interest in adding all school alerts with single cases to this public reporting… we are exploring ways to report all the schools where a single case has been identified, who spent time in a school while infectious.”

Dr. Hinshaw says while they’re continuing to look into the possibility of every single case being added to the map in time, she says the confidentiality of patients is important to balance alongside transparency. She explains that while the reporting has some caveats, she believes that only reporting those cases where someone was in a school setting while infectious removes a lot of guesswork for concerned parents.

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“As a parent, learning that a teacher or other student who were never in the school while infectious, and contracted COVID-19 at a party or while on vacation, does not help me understand if my child is at risk.”

She adds that while numbers reported on social media vary wildly, she urges everyone to remember that even if well-meaning, words and actions can impact the health and wellbeing of others.

“Focusing on the official numbers and situations where a risk of exposure has been identified is the best way to understand what is really happening in schools.”

Of the cases reported in schools so far, Hinshaw says all were acquired from community transmission, not from within the schools.

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