Positive case of COVID-19 at Medicine Hat High School

There are about 1,150 students and 100 staff members at Hat High.

The case was confirmed to the public school division on Wednesday, and officials then began the process of tracking down and contacting close contacts.

Based on the movements of student, the school division believes the exposure was limited to a small group of students and staff and that anyone who has not been directed to isolate can attend school safely.

“If we haven’t communicated on behalf of AHS that a student or staff member was a close contact then you are welcome to come to school. If you haven’t been identified then you’re good to go,” said Davidson.

Siblings and family members of close contacts are not required to self-isolate, however they are asked to monitor for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, says the division.

Davidson said the school hasn’t been told if transmission happened in the school or not, but “we wonder if it was external as we only have one case identified in the school.”

The school division has directed its custodial team to conduct enhanced cleaning protocols prior to the start of the school day Friday. The extra cleaning will focus on areas the student was present and high touch areas and surfaces throughout the school.

This is the second confirmed case within the public school division. On Oct. 5 a case was confirmed in an adult working at Elm Street School and the YMCA After School care program at Herald School.

That case made clear the importance of maintaining records of when people came in the building and exactly when they leave is critically important to supporting Alberta Health Services, said Davidson.

“When they asked us for information we were able to provide it very quickly because the staff at Elm Street had kept excellent records and were really efficient. Medicine Hat High School followed along in suit.”

Everyone from the Elm Street School and Herald School case has finished their self-isolation terms.

Davidson said the division is always willing to listen to staff about how any COVID-19 situation can be handled better.

He said meaningful conversations will happen in the coming weeks about what teachers are being asked to do that could be reduced “in order to make space in their energy and their hearts for the stuff they have to do around COVID.”

Davidson added the quarter system at Hat High – which sees a student only attend two classes a day – has helped with the contact tracing.

“If a student comes to school infectious it’s likely that the only studnets that’ll have to be identified as close contacts at least with respect to their engagement at school would be the maximum of two classes.”

MHPSD is reminding all parents/guardians of students, as well as any staff/visitors/volunteers to Hat High to monitor for any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. It also urges people to complete the Alberta Daily Health Check each day prior to attending school.

In the release Hat High says thoughts remain with this individual and their family, we wish them a safe and speedy recovery.

“The health and safety of our students and staff is our priority. We know this news can be distressing, rest assured that we will continue to work closely with Alberta Health Services and the Medical Officer of Health in the South Zone to ensure that we follow their ongoing recommendations. We will continue to provide additional information to parents/guardians as it is available and want to thank the community for the continued support.”

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