Cold Lake Elementary School and Nelson Heights Middle School have declared their first COVID-19 outbreak since the government introduced changes to contact tracing for schools.

Now that the school has worked through the new process with Alberta Health Services they wanted to share more information with parents. 

An outbreak is declared when 10 or more people have confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period. The kids have to be present at the school when infectious. 

The Communications Officer for NLPS Nicole Garner says the school wants to be as transparent as possible.

“Our school COVID reports include self-disclosed cases in addition to those that have been confirmed by AHS. Unfortunately, this has created some confusion as some school COVID reports show more than 10 cases connected to the school, but AHS has not declared an outbreak at that location.”

Garner says they want parents and guardians to make informed decisions for their families.

When AHS is determining an outbreak they only count confirmed cases through testing and if they were infectious while at school. They do not count self-disclosed cases that were confirmed by rapid or private tests. Once AHS has determined that a school meets the criteria for an outbreak, they contact the school, and NLPS shares a letter with all parents and guardians.

Any K to 6 schools that are in an outbreak are then eligible to participate in the At-Home Rapid Testing Program. The kits take approximately 72 hours to arrive once requested. Participation in the At-Home Rapid Testing Program is optional and is targeted to kids who are not symptomatic. Ten kits will be given to each person and they are asked to perform two tests each week for a period of five weeks. Anyone testing positive is asked to follow up with a test administered by AHS. If that test comes back positive the student/person is legally required to isolate for 10 days unless they receive a negative PCR test.

The Government of Alberta has created a guide for parents, students, and staff with more information about the program and how to do an at-home rapid test: K-6 At-Home Rapid Testing Program: Information for Parents, Students and School Staff. They have also created a video that shows how to perform an At-Home Rapid Test: How to perform an at-home rapid test for COVID-19