PA Catholic School Division reports 159 new cases over 12-day period

Herald file photo.

Education director emphasizes importance of transparency for parents

There has been a significant raise in COVID-19 cases since the return from Christmas Break in the Prince Albert Catholic School Division.

Education Director Lorel Trumier reported on Monday that 159 cases were discovered between Jan. 5 and Jan. 17.

Trumier said that it was not a surprise to her because of how fast the Omicron variant spreads. She added that other areas are seeing similar trends.

“It’s highly transmissible and with increased cases we are going to see increased counts,” she explained. “What we are always trying to do is be transparent with our community, to make sure that they are doing all that they can to follow the Public Health guidance as pertains to keeping themselves in a healthy environment.”

Trumier reported that from March to June, 2020 there were zero cases reported because students were learning at home. From Sept., 2020 to June, 2021—the 2020-2021 school year—there were 65 cases. From Sept., 2021 to Dec. 2021, or the school year up until the Christmas Break there were 75 cases.

Trumier said schools are no different than other organizations that have congregated setting and are contending with similar issues.

“It’s definitely something we are contending with,” Trumier said.

“I think it is important to know that our challenges or our elements that we are working through are very similar,” she added.

“We are just trying to ensure that we have our students in our schools and having them learning. That’s our first goal, but we need to keep them safe and present the healthiest environment possible. I think part of that is being transparent with our families so that they are making informed decisions as they move forward.”

She also updated the board on changes in the province, including Public Health Orders that were updated on Dec. 30, 2021, Jan. 6, 2022 and Jan. 13, 2022.

The changes include that the school division will not receive information about isolation dates or contract tracing from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and local Public Health will now monitor absenteeism due to illness.

The first use of this mechanism led to St. Catherine School moving to remote learning on Jan. 24, where they will remain until Feb. 1.

As well St. Francis, Ecole St. Mary High School, St. Anne and St John Community School will be monitored for increased rate of illness by Public Health.

The memo to the board noted that classroom and bus exposure notifications continue to keep those in the division updated.

As they have throughout the pandemic the division continues to collaborate with local Public Health officials including Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Khami Chokani.