Schoolmates of COVID-Positive Students Released from Isolation in Saskatchewan | The Canadian News

Aaron Genest’s 10th grade son sat in three different classrooms at a Saskatoon high school for three days with a student who later tested positive for COVID-19.

“From the conversations between the children, it was discovered that it was someone who had sat next to him and was not vaccinated,” said Genest, who added that the student had not been wearing a mask because it was only required in elementary classes in the city’s public schools at that time. Since then, it has been changed to include all grades.

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Genest said he received a letter notifying him of the positive case, but that there was no mandate for his son to isolate himself.

“The same letter was sent to all the parents in all the classrooms that basically said to send their child back to school and monitor for symptoms.”

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Saskatchewan does not require students who are in close contact with other students with COVID-19 to isolate themselves unless the exposure occurred at a party or other social gathering with peers outside of school.

“But if they’re exposed at school, they can keep coming to school and they just can’t participate in extracurricular activities, and they have to wear a mask except when they’re eating,” said Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Teachers.

What makes it more complicated is that students are doing their own contact tracing, due to a lack of resources and emergency funding, Maze said. In most cases, schools are not told who has COVID-19, so staff cannot enforce any restrictions.

The Saskatoon Public Schools, the largest division in Saskatchewan, said the Saskatchewan Health Authority does not share the identity of a diagnosed student, so there is no way of knowing who is positive, much less a close contact.

“It’s confusing, illogical, and very difficult to implement,” said Maze, who wants mandatory masking in all schools and proof of COVID-19 vaccination for eligible staff and students.

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The Health Ministry did not respond to requests for comment, but a public health order says close contact pupils are exempted from self-isolation requirements to “reduce the social burden associated with the absence from work of parents or guardians and to ensure that children can continue to learn in person. “

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Genest’s son tested negative for COVID-19, but the exemption from self-isolation in schools still caused concern to the father.

“I have a six-year-old at home who is not vaccinated, and there was a possibility that my son would have taken him home with my youngest son, and then the consequences could have been different,” Genest said. “So that was disturbing.”

He believes school divisions should be trusted to know who has COVID-19 so they can be more proactive in managing risk.

“It is perfectly reasonable that each child’s health status is shared with the school,” Genest said. “We do that if they have lice.”

Click to Play Video: '' Unbelievably Real ': Saskatchewan Health Medical Director on COVID-19 Depletion, Protests''

‘Unbelievably Real’: Saskatchewan Health Medical Director on COVID-19 Depletion and Protests

‘Unbelievably Real’: Saskatchewan Health Medical Director on COVID-19 Depletion and Protests

Saskatchewan is facing its largest wave since the pandemic began and has some of the highest weekly case rates in the country.

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On Wednesday, the province reported 475 new cases, 22 percent of them in children under the age of 12, who are not eligible for a vaccine. Two children were reported to the hospital with the virus.

Government data shows that there were more than 140 cases in schools within the first two weeks of classes resuming, as well as 14 active outbreaks in daycare centers across the province.

“We’re seeing more cases this year in schools and daycare centers than last year,” said Margi Corbett, an advocate for Safe Schools Saskatchewan, a Facebook group of nearly 12,000 parents and teachers that tracks COVID-19 cases in schools.

Corbett said the group has been urging mandatory vaccinations and a province-wide mask mandate in all schools, but said letters to Prime Minister Scott Moe and the ministers of health and education have no response.

“I’m very worried,” said Corbett, who has two grandchildren. “I don’t know how else to describe it.”

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