COVID-19 cases and tests both rise among school-aged kids in last week of September

Cases of COVID-19 have been rising among school-aged kids and teens in Alberta over the past week, but so too has the number of young people being tested.

Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases increasing among both five- to nine-year-olds and 10- to 19-year-olds.

In-person classes resumed at many schools in Alberta on Sept. 1 and for several weeks the number of new daily cases was on the decline.

But that changed in the last week in September, which saw roughly 30 new cases per day, on average, among school-aged kids and teens. That compares with about 23 the previous week.

But Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, noted the recent increase in cases “comes along with a massive increase in the number of children who are getting tested.”

All told, less than one per cent of tests on kids and teens came back positive in the past week, Hinshaw said.

Cases among school-aged kids peaked in April, she noted, and at that time about eight or nine per cent of tests were coming back positive.

As of Thursday, Hinshaw said there were active alerts (one case) or outbreaks (two or more cases) at 133 schools, which represents about five per cent of schools in Alberta.

There were 257 active cases among those who attend these schools.

There were 52 schools with outbreaks, including seven on the “watch” list, meaning they have five or more cases:

  • St. Wilfrid Elementary School in Calgary.
  • Canyon Meadows School in Calgary.
  • Centre High in Edmonton.
  • Vimy Ridge in Edmonton.
  • Highlands School in Edmonton.
  • Austin O’Brien in Edmonoton.
  • Harry Ainlay School in Edmonton.

You can find a full list of school outbreaks on the Alberta Health website.

Hinshaw said the vast majority of school-aged kids appear to have acquired COVID-19 outside of the school setting.

“I want to remind everyone that a school outbreak is called with just two cases in a school and does not mean the school is unsafe,” she said. 

“In fact, only 11 of these schools have had any likely in-school transmission.”

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