Edmonton Public Schools Report Lower Respiratory Disease Outbreaks

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School-based respiratory disease outbreaks are down in Edmonton public schools, administrators learned Tuesday.

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In an update at a meeting of the Edmonton Public School Board (EPSB), Superintendent Darrel Robertson said that since Nov. 21, Alberta Health Services has declared an outbreak of respiratory disease in 23 schools. Since the start of the school year, 133 schools have been put in a state of epidemic.

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« Illness rates in the division are trending down, » Robertson said. “Since November 16, just over eight and a half percent of students in our division have been absent from school, and the trend is downward and the last four days of school have hovered around the zone of five. percent. »

This is compared to before Remembrance Day, when sickness rates were around 13-14% in the division.

“We had a very large increase in disease followed by a very large decline in disease,” Robertson said.

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« I think it’s instructive for all of us to continue to monitor our own health and for parents to continue to do the amazing job they’ve done to keep kids home when they’re sick. »

Last week, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange put new rules in place that mean no school in Alberta can require students to wear masks and schools also can’t move children. course to online-only formats due to an outbreak.

Roberson said no additional funding has been provided to school boards as a result of the new rules, which also present an operational challenge from a staffing perspective.

“In the event that we are transitioning a class for any reason, usually related to staffing, the ability to staff our classrooms and having to manage both online and face-to-face represents an operational challenge for us, » he said.

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« There would be resource implications, and we have not received additional funding for those contingencies. »

Administrators learned that staffing levels are monitored daily and the division has more than 2,000 substitute teachers who have the capacity to make themselves available for work if needed.

“There are certainly certain days of the week and others that when sickness rates go up, trying to fill all the teaching positions can be a challenge,” Robertson said.

« So far this year we haven’t been in a situation where I felt the need to move to online learning due to staffing levels, but there have been worse days than others. »

Robertson said one day this year has seen a peak of 50 unfilled jobs across the division, but the school district has so far maintained a fill rate of about 97 percent.



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