ATHABASCA – High school students at Edwin Parr Composite in Athabasca started another two weeks of learning online at home Monday after two new cases of COVID-19 were reported last week.
A media release from Aspen View Public Schools April 29 confirmed the new positive tests and the number of close contacts associated with them.
“All close contacts have been identified and directed to self-isolate as required. Identified close contacts include 92 students and six staff members from EPC, as well as 12 students identified as close contacts through student transportation,” stated the release.
At the time Aspen View and EPC administration determined there was no need for students to return to online learning away from the school and would continue to monitor the situation and take additional measures if required.
The next morning, April 30, it was determined for operational reasons, that Grades 10-12 would start learning online again starting May 3, and return to school May 17.
“A two-week shift to online learning is consistent with measures taken in other school divisions in response to school-based COVID-19 outbreaks. Moving Grades 10-12 to a consistent online platform helps to mitigate staffing challenges, provides equitable learning opportunities for students, and reduces the risk of potential in-school transmission of COVID-19,” read an e-mail notice to parents from Aspen View Supt. Neil O’Shea, adding additional measures will be considered and implemented as necessary.
Communications coordinator Ross Hunter said Sunday that the school division did an evaluation Friday morning and considered the number of close contacts, staffing concerns and the availability of substitute teachers before deciding to transition the high school back to online learning.
“The other part of the rationale for that is, you've got a good chunk of kids in self-isolation and learning online, and you have another chunk of kids who are in classroom, which creates an imbalance in terms of learning opportunities, so we, in consultation with EPC administration determined that moving those kids online for the next two weeks was the best way to go,” he said.
On Sunday afternoon, May 2, another media release reported one more positive case at Landing Trail Intermediate School.
“Sixteen students and three staff from LTIS who had close contact with the positive case have been directed to stay home. In addition, eight students from LTIS who had close contact with the positive case through student transportation have also been directed to stay home,” it stated.
Active case numbers in the Athabasca region have been stable in the mid-50s for the last several days, and as of May 2, sit at 54 with an active case rate per 100,000 at 413.1, a far cry from the 266 active cases in the region at the height of the EPC outbreak in the first week of April.
According to the information on the Government of Alberta’s website, which was last updated April 30, outbreaks are also underway at Pleasant Valley Lodge and Tipton’s Your Independent Grocer.
Total case numbers since April 2020 when the first active case was discovered in the region, which includes the town, county and Village of Boyle, are now up to 589 with 534 recovered, and one death.
There are currently 10 active cases in the Boyle area.
The latest numbers from the Government of Alberta show 22,920 active cases around the province. There are 648 people in hospital and 155 are in intensive care units. There have been 2,086 deaths.