Classrooms in Saskatchewan Rivers must isolate for one positive COVID-19 case

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

Recently there has been an informal change in health directives in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division when a student tests positive for COVID-19.

Last weekend Saskatoon Public Schools changed their guidelines where entire classes have to isolate after a single positive case in a class.

Saskatchewan Rivers School Division director of education Robert Bratvold explained that they have been following a similar guideline in their division for over a week.

“There is some variation but essentially the increase in community cases increased demands on the Health team so much that they cannot do the full contact tracing in a classroom.  Now when a case occurs, all the students and staff in that classroom are sent home for isolation,” he explained.

For example, when Saskatchewan Rivers announced a series of cases on Sunday each of the classrooms in in Debden Public School, Ecole Arthur Pechey School in Prince Albert, John Diefenbaker Public School and Carlton Comprehensive High School all had affected classrooms isolate.

When a case was reported at Carlton on Nov. 2 only close contacts were  placed on 14 day isolation. Schools in the division have remained open when a case has been detected in a classroom.

There was also an outbreak, which means more than two cases in the same location, declared at the Global Sports Academy in Carlton on Nov.13.

Another outbreak in the division was declared at W.P. Sandin School in Shellbrook on Oct. 30.

The other active school outbreak is at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s Ecole St. Mary High School and was declared on Oct.24.

All of these outbreaks are still listed as active by the province. Outbreaks have to declared over by an SHA Medical Health Officer before they can be removed from the list.

According to a n SHA release sent out Tuesday, eight per cent of all infections come from educational institutions. Cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity is higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students.

The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were not available to comment as to whether isolating whole classrooms is a provincial policy as of deadline. Saskatoon Public Schools has a similar policy.

 “I cannot speak to the potential that this becomes a provincial practice, but I can foresee that as a possibility in the not too distant future.”

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division was also not available for comment before deadline.