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Public school division felt prepared for COVID-19 case

The superintendent of the Grande Prairie Public School Division says he is confident in the measures they have taken surrounding COVID-19, despite a recent positive test in a student at Riverstone Public School. Sandy McDonald says the prep work they did before returning to classes, helped them respond quickly.

“We do have confidence in the system, and we were prepared for a positive case to be identified,” says Superintendent Sandy McDonald. “[Chief Medical Officer of Health] Dr. Hinshaw has been quite clear that schools in Alberta could expect to see confirmed cases of COVID in our schools, and our planning has prepared us to respond effectively to parents and staff.”

Prior to the first day of school, McDonald says adding new layers of safety, including assigned seating on buses, classroom cohorts, and mask-wearing in shared spaces went a long way in helping minimize some exposure risk.

McDonald says since the case was discovered, AHS protocols have kicked in, with all families of children who have been in close contact with the confirmed case being notified as part of contact tracing. The building went through additional deep cleaning services in classrooms and other common areas of the school.

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McDonald adds since day one of the reopening of classes, the efforts by not only students but staff and parents to keep mitigation factors top of mind has been admirable.

“We have been impressed with the way our students, staff and our parents have worked together to return to school, to wear masks, to be diligent about hand hygiene, and to adopt the new routines that we have in place,” he says. “We are grateful for those efforts, and I believe it is the understanding that we are all in this together that allowed our staff to work with Alberta Health Services staff once we were notified of the positive case.”

He adds that faith continues even in the shadow of the confirmed COVID-19 case, suggesting that staff and students will continue to work together with safety as a top priority moving forward.

The Riverstone School case was the second positive COVID-19 test result linked to a school in the city, as an individual at Westridge Community School also tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

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