Editor's note: The headline for this article is incorrect. Currently, there are 73 active cases of COVID-19 connected to Athabasca schools. Four of those are linked to Landing Trail Intermediate School and the remainder with Edwin Parr Composite.
ATHABASCA – With 73 active cases of COVID-19 now at Athabasca schools, Aspen View Public Schools (AVPS) announced Friday that all three will be moving to online learning for the week of April 6-9.
The school division reported Friday afternoon there are now 73 active cases linked to Edwin Parr Composite School, including four at Landing Trail Intermediate School. Alberta Health Services has also confirmed “that a number of these cases have been determined to be COVID-19 variants,” said the April 2 media release from AVPS.
“We are extremely concerned about the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases, which we understand may have been accelerated by the presence of COVID variant cases,” said Supt. Neil O’Shea in the release. “We are confident that moving all learning online is the best decision under the current circumstances.
“At this time, we anticipate that in-person learning will resume on Monday, April 12, 2021. However, as Aspen View Public Schools continues to monitor COVID-19 cases, including both those associated with schools and within the community, this timeline will be reviewed as needed.”
With additional confirmed cases comes additional close contacts, of which there are now approximately 716 — 543 students from Edwin Parr Composite School, along with 57 staff; 64 students from Landing Trail Intermediate School, and three staff; 43 students from Whispering Hills Primary School (close contacts through busing); and six contracted bus drivers.
“Four of the active cases are associated with Landing Trail Intermediate School. Two of these cases, reported on March 29 and 31, have no school-based close contacts. The other two cases, both reported April 1, have a small number of school-based close contacts,” reads the release.
All close contacts have been notified and directed to self-isolate.
School families at “all three Athabasca schools (Edwin Parr Composite, Landing Trail Intermediate and Whispering Hills Primary) will shift to online learning from April 6-9, 2021, following Spring Break. This shift was made for operational and precautionary reasons, in light of the rapid escalation of COVID-19 cases in both schools and the community since Friday, March 26.”
O’Shea also sent well wishes and positive thoughts to everyone affected, on behalf of the board of trustees and school communities.
“We wish a quick and full recovery to all those who have tested positive, and we empathize with all those whose Spring Break was disrupted by self-isolation requirements.
“Our division and school administrators take this outbreak very seriously, and have worked tirelessly over the past several days to identify and notify close contacts, communicate with Alberta Health Services, and work with Alberta Education regarding education programming options. We urge all our school families to observe public health protocols and self-isolation requirements, and continue to be vigilant to protecting the health of our community.”
Aspen View reminds parents and guardians, as well as staff, to monitor for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. The Alberta Health daily checklist can be found here. The school division asks the checklist be completed each day prior to attending school.
If any of the core symptoms listed on the Alberta Health daily checklist are observed, it is advised to keep your child at home and fill out the online Alberta Health Services COVID-19 self-assessment or call Health Link at 811.
More information from Alberta Health on the variants can be found on the government website at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-variants.aspx; information on close contact including of variant cases can be found at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17221.aspx; and information on Isolation for positive variant cases and close contacts of variant cases can be found at https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page17239.aspx.
Alberta’s mandatory public health restrictions can also be viewed here.