Support Our Students (SOS) Alberta is urgently calling on the Alberta government to reinstate public health contact tracing for schools, which was eliminated by a change in provincial guidelines. With this change, schools will no longer receive notifications from Alberta Health Services regarding positive test cases or exposures. Public health will not step in until at least 10% of a school population is absent. This is an utter abdication of government duty especially as the school year has started amid rapidly rising cases of highly transmissible Delta variant.
Last year (2020/21), families relied heavily on contact tracing to know when/if students were exposed at school. During a public health crisis, having open and transparent knowledge is necessary for decision-making at the individual and community level.
Because of government’s withdrawal of school-based contact tracing, the scarcity of case notifications is preventing SOS Alberta from continuing our COVID-19 School Tracker in the same consistent format as last year. Our School Tracker was updated every day. It was viewed over 4 million times by over 430,000 Albertans. This speaks to the huge public demand for transparent and up-to-date school case information.
However, after one week of school in session, current available data is so insufficient that our community sources simply do not have adequate data to provide. Furthermore, we reiterate unequivocally that it is the job of government to provide this essential tracking protocol as they have the centralized resources and infrastructure administered by public funds. By withholding case statistics, the government is creating a massive information black hole and throwing families into even more tumultuous uncertainty.
“After 18 months of this pandemic, the AB government still refuses to prioritize safer schools and have now withdrawn even the basic tool of contact tracing for schools. Parents & guardians need to know if their child was exposed to a highly contagious disease to make complex decisions for their families in an informed and proactive manner. The government is disempowering families by withholding information.”
- Medeana Moussa, Executive Director of Support Our Students
While SOS Alberta cannot continue with our daily COVID-19 School Tracker due to this dearth of information, we will continue to support Alberta families by monitoring the province-wide school situation however we can.
Support Our Students (SOS) Alberta is a non-profit citizens’ action group advocating for universally accessible and equitable public education in Alberta. www.supportourstudents.ca
Contact Wing Li (She/her) at email@example.com