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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Alberta family frustrated by lack of transparency after 10-year-old gets COVID-19 at school

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EDMONTON — An Edmonton, Alta. woman is calling on the province to implement better contact tracing policies in schools after her 10-year-old granddaughter contracted COVID-19 at school and passed the infection along to her elderly grandfather.

Megan Elliot says it wasn’t until her daughter became ill that she knew there was a possible COVID-19 case in her school, let alone an outbreak.

“What we learned was that the schools – if they weren’t provided permission from the parents – they were not able to notify anybody within the classroom that may have been in close contact [with an infected student],” Elliot told CTV National News Thursday.

“And therefore, if a parent didn’t notify the school and chose to just keep the child home because they thought they had a cold and the symptoms stopped, they were able to return to school and possibly still have COVID.”

On Wednesday, the Alberta government resumed public reporting of active outbreaks in schools reversing the province’s decision in August to end reporting of COVID-19 cases unless there was a school-wide absence rate of 10 per cent or higher.

The latest provincial data, released Thursday, reveals that 54 schools have declared outbreaks of the virus, while more than 750 have reported at least two cases.

This comes after an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases in the province over the last month, where children between the ages of five and nine years old accounted for the most active COVID-19 cases in Alberta of any age group relative to its population.

“Had we known, we would have put precautions in place,” said Elliot.

“It’s caused quite a frustrating situation for us because we want to be fully supportive. We’ve all been vaccinated. We’ve provided everything that we need to do. But the end result, she still brought it home.”

And while the province says school districts will start notifying parents if their child is exposed to COVID-19 next week, and conduct contact tracing for schools will start again in November, Elliot says more needs to be done to protect families.

“They can easily take it home to older parents and grandparents that are raising the child, that may not be vaccinated for whatever reason,” she said, adding that 10-year-old Aubree and her 85-year-old vaccinated grandfather are faring well so far.

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