On November 2nd, Alberta’s parents will begin using an updated Daily Checklist to determine if their children should go to school. Deputy Education Minister Andre Corbould notified school authorities of the change on October 29th, saying:
“These evidence-based changes are needed to lessen the number of students who are required to isolate without sufficient cause and to address the growing demand on our health system for symptomatic testing, while maintaining student and staff safety.”
Changes to the core symptom list
The previous version listed 5 symptoms requiring up to 10 days of isolation. The core symptoms on the new checklist still include Fever, Cough and Shortness of breath, but Runny Nose and Sore Throat have been removed. Loss of sense of smell or taste has been added to the core symptom list.
Returning to school after ‘other’ symptoms subside
Alberta Health has provided more explanation and examples for each of the core symptoms as well as for the ‘other’ symptoms. Parents will be able to send their child back to school after 24 hours if specified criteria are met. Deputy Minister Corbould stated:
“These changes in the daily checklist will help ensure we focus on testing, decrease wait times and get Albertans who are under 18 years of age back into the classroom and participating in activities as quickly and safely as possible, while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
Updating information on websites
Pembina Hills has updated all the links to the daily checklist on the division and school websites. Parents may notice that the link opens a previous version of the document in their browser. If this happens, click or tap the browser refresh button while the document is open. That should open the updated checklist.
Daily Health Checks – a critical strategy
We expect that this new checklist will allow students to continue learning in class with fewer extended absences. The Daily Health Check continues to be a key strategy in our return to school plan. Even though the number of cases on the east side of the division have resulted in many students and staff needing to isolate, public awareness of core symptoms through the checklist has certainly helped to minimize the spread.
Recovering from an outbreak
We want to acknowledge the families in our communities whose loved ones have tested positive. We are thankful that they are recovering. We understand the vulnerability families feel when a child tests positive and we respect the courage it takes to notify the school. This immediate notification helps us to begin contact tracing quickly and through that, protect others in our community.
At this time, the isolation period for many of the close contacts identified with the initial cases has ended. There are over 100 students in the Westlock area who, along with several school staff, who must continue to isolate though most of next week. We understand that isolation is difficult, especially when it means giving up weekend (and Halloween) activities. It is however a necessary reality of Alberta’s pandemic response plan.
As you have heard so often in these past months, we are in this together. Thank you once again for continuing to be diligent with daily screening and all the other health measures.