The Grande Prairie Public School Division has tweaked its notification and tracing policy with COVID-19 cases in schools across the city.

The changes come with a more streamlined positive case notification system that sees Alberta Health Services contact schools directly, with the information then shared with families and potential close contacts. Other changes include more specific exclusion periods for positive cases in students in Kindergarten through Grade 6. The updated policy will allow for exclusions of attending class if a school identifies three COVID-19 cases in one class who attended school while infectious within five days.

Superintendent Sandy McDonald says the changes come as a result of new measures being implemented from the provincial level earlier this month, but time was needed to put the plan in motion.

“Alberta Health Services is doing a lot of that work for us, so they notify us now of cases, and that’s the biggest change,” he says. “Up until these new measures were implemented from the province, we didn’t get any notification from Alberta Health Services.”

McDonald says they’re also pleased to see a more specific measure come into place when it comes to marking absentee students, as students could miss class for several reasons, that aren’t specific to COVID-19. He adds a more direct approach will help in many ways, especially when it comes to concerns from families.

“So it’s a lot more specific information to parents, and we are very appreciative of that because it’s our hope that the more accurate information about COVID-19 we can get from AHS and to our school communities, the better we believe we will be able to reduce anxiety about the safety of our schools,” he says.

“The notification AHS tells us when there is a case of an individual, whether it’s staff, student or some other individual who is confirmed to be present in school during the period they were contagious.”

You can find the updated 2021-2022 back-to-school plan on the Grande Prairie Public School Division website.