Two schools in St. Albert sent letters home to parents Monday notifying them of potential student exposure to COVID-19.
One student from Leo Nickerson Elementary School and one student from Sir George Simpson Jr. High School may have been exposed to the virus, according to the letters. However, neither of the two students have been at school since the potential exposure.
“This student has not been at school since this possible exposure so there is NO increased risk to any of our students,” read the letters, dated March 9.
“We are aware that this is a sensitive topic and we know that rumours can start quickly and may be misleading or untruthful, so we wanted to assure you that our students are at no greater risk because of this incident.”
The two students are staying at home until their test results indicate whether or not there was exposure, said Glenys Edwards, board chair for St. Albert Public Schools.
In the letter, St. Albert Public Schools said the school district is following all government advisories and Alberta Health Services guidelines to assist students, staff and families in preventing the spread of the virus.
The letter included a list of ways for families to protect themselves from viruses, including using good hygiene practices like frequent hand washing, and covering coughs and sneezes.
Krimsen Sumners, superintendent of St. Albert Public Schools, said they had received a call from the families of the two students to let them know they had been in contact with someone who is a current presumptive case.
Even though there is no current risk of exposure at either school, the school district does have a pandemic procedure plan should the situation change in the future, Sumners said.
"We've been worried about this now for a couple of weeks. We do have a plan that we're trying to work from, right down to making sure we have enough supplies at the schools, access to hand sanitizers, and enough soap and water."
Alberta Health Services has been a key partner in making sure the district has access to all the information they need, she said. The information is then shared with staff and families.
"It's really, really important we have the children and our students washing their hands so they can protect each other, as well as themselves."
Custodians have been taking extra precautions when cleaning schools in the last week. Children are being educated in classrooms on the importance of good hygiene, and are being asked to wipe down the surfaces they use.
"Now we're looking at what we need to do in case we do have a group of children who (can't attend) school – how are we going to support them if we can't have direct access to them?"
Many teachers within the district use Google Classroom, which makes it easy for students to see and submit assignments for review. The district is also exploring how students kept at home could access teachings online.
"The health and safety of our staff and students is always our primary concern, and we want to ensure we're doing our part in trying to minimize any sort of outbreak that could occur," Sumners said.
"We keep hearing that we need to be vigilant and aware, but not take it to extremes. I think that's the balancing act that we're trying to manage right now – ensuring people have the information they need, but not jumping off the deep end and creating an issue when we don't need to."