The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has changed how it’s containing COVID-19 cases in both of Saskatoon’s major school divisions.
Classmates of any student who test positive for COVID-19 are now considered close contacts in both the Saskatoon Public School Division and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Previously, classmates were not considered close contacts by default, and only certain students in the same class would be considered close contacts by health officials.
The SHA’s approach was outlined to parents in a document sent to parents of the Saskatoon Public School Division this weekend, but the practice has been in place at the public division since Nov. 11.
“In the attempt to manage the increased cases along with the challenges of contacting everyone in a timely manner, the SHA has updated its procedures with regards to positive cases in classrooms,” the document said.
“For now, every student in the class will be considered a close contact due to the amount of time spent together in the classroom, even with all safety protocols being followed.”
CBC reached out to the Ministry of Education and the SHA for comment about the changes, but a response was not immediately received.
The information provided by the division said families will be notified about isolation through a letter from the health authority that will also provide them with information about self-isolation and a date of return.
A letter sent to parents of Aden Bowman Collegiate in Saskatoon said when a child is instructed to self-isolate, they should contact their teacher to discuss how to continue learning from home.
Veronica Baker with the Saskatoon Public School Division said the rule applied to both elementary and high-school students in the division, and said any further information will have to come from the health authority.
Derrick Kunz, a Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools spokesperson, said the rule is also in place for the city’s catholic school division cohorts and classrooms.