With the fall weather and flu season upon us, student absences at all of our schools are on the rise and are much higher than usual. Staff illnesses are also increasing and we continue to have a difficult time finding substitute teachers and casual support staff.
Alberta Health Services is tracking student absences due to illness in all Alberta Schools. Schools are required to report to AHS when 10% of their students are absent due to illness. When that happens, AHS places the school on Outbreak Status and sends home the following important reminders to all students, staff and parents to help minimize the spread of any respiratory illness:
- Ill students should stay home.
- Perform hand hygiene frequently by washing their hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub.
- Practice respiratory hygiene:
- cough and sneeze into their sleeves or
- cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- throw away used tissues immediately after sneezing, coughing or wiping their noses.
- perform hand hygiene as described above.
- Clean surfaces that are frequently touched such as door knobs, light switches and bathroom taps.
- Immunization is an important public health measure and all families, children and staff are encouraged to complete their routine immunizations, COVID-19 and influenza immunizations.
We have a few schools in WRSD that are currently on Outbreak Status. You will know if your child’s school is on Outbreak Status because a letter from AHS is sent to all parents at that school. When a school is on Outbreak Status, they remain on Outbreak Status for two weeks. During that time, the school must daily submit their absence data to AHS for monitoring. Other than the recommendations above, no additional restrictions are placed on the school. If the absence rate does not improve by the end of this two week period, further support and recommendations could come from AHS.
Whether a school is on Outbreak Status or not, we believe that the students, staff and parents at all of our schools should be following the above recommendations. We also ask everyone to consider the potential benefits of wearing a mask when in public places. We want to ensure all of our students, staff and parents that they are welcome to wear a mask, if they so choose, at any time while at school.
Thank you for doing everything you can to help minimize the spread of illness in our schools, giving our students and staff the best possible opportunity to stay healthy and present at school.