Catholic School Division hopes transparency will help fight COVID-19 outbreaks

Herald file photo.

Report shows cases in all PA Catholic Schools since Sept. 1

A recent COVID-19 report delivered to trustees at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division meeting showed cases have been reported in all Catholic schools during the first 16 days of the 2021-22 school year.

Education Director Lorel Trumier delivered the report. She said all school divisions face the same challenge this year, but the Catholic School Division chose to be as transparent as possible to fight the spread.

“We felt that, as a school division, we should make it a priority, communicating with our community that COVID is real and that COVID is something we see impacting our healthcare system,” Trumier said. “But, it’s impacting our education system as well.”

Trumier said families want to be kept in the loop in order to keep their children safe, which is one reason they’ve reported cases to the media too.

“We continue to keep them in tune with exposures, and that way they can monitor their children and (make sure) no one is coming to school when feeling ill,” she explained. “We hope that the families that are experiencing this virus will be well, but it is concerning as we move into those colder months and we are spending more time indoors.”

The report showed there are approximately 3,000 students in the division. In the 16 school days between Sept. 1 and Sept. 23, all seven schools had cases with a total of 35 cases of COVID-19 reported. After delivering the report, Trumier said 19 more cases had been added since last Friday.

“To this point we are seeing little to no transmission, although as the days progress this will change,” she explained.

The memo states that each case can take from three hours to 10 hours of work. The cases impact all associated staff and cohorts. That includes St. Mary High School, which ranges from two to three cohort, to elementary schools cohorts and bus transportation.

Trumier said the division is trying to be proactive with strategies around their COVID-19 strategies. One example she gave was continuing with similar policies around masking, cohorts and sanitizing.

“We didn’t go one day without them (and we) also insured that there was a continuous supply of masks for students at the schools,” Trumier said.

The division also gave a refresher course around procedures and protocols to staff before the year began. The division is continuing to regularly meet with Prince Albert Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Khami Chokani to look at strategies around COVID-19.

“We know that approximately 2,000 of our students are not eligible for vaccines as of yet. We do encourage that they do consider the vaccine as soon as they become available,” Trumier said.

She added that they are also working around letting individuals know that vaccines and safe and effective.

The board of education is kept in the loop around COVID-19 in the division and this update was more of an overview of the current situation.

“The board is made aware of the cases and what we are currently working through. Again, I will say this, I don’t believe what we are working through is any different than any other school divisions across this province,” Trumier said.

She hopes that the division’s transparency around COVID-19 leads better decisions. She added the division plans to remain as transparent as possible for the community’s benefit.

“We are good neighbours to each other and we want to keep those relationships strong,” Trumier said. “We just need to continue to make sure that, if there are potential exposures, people would know about them so they can protect themselves. They can protect their children, their loved ones, the elderly. I really feel that it’s important for us to keep that at the forefront.”

The report also included all of the relevant data to Sept. 24 from the province’s COVID-19 dashboard.