Check against delivery.
Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon everyone.
Today, I am providing a special update on COVID-19 in our province.
I am not providing a situation update today, but our website will be updated at 3:30 p.m. with the latest case numbers as usual.
This will include the latest numbers on active cases and outbreaks in Alberta.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been fully committed to transparency and providing the public information as we have it.
As part of that commitment, today, I wanted to tell you directly that Alberta Health Services has identified Alberta’s first case of COVID-19 likely transmitted within a school.
This is not unexpected and is not a cause for alarm.
However, I know that many are anxious about school safety and I felt it was important to share this information with you, and to talk about what it means.
The transmission was identified at Waverley School in Edmonton.
To date, AHS has identified 2 cases that were infectious while in the school, one of whom seems to have been the source for the other.
While it is always difficult to say with 100% certainty where transmission happens, given the facts in this situation, it seems to be a likely explanation.
All parents, guardians and students of this school have been notified by the school within the last few, and will be receiving additional information from AHS this afternoon.
Anyone potentially exposed has been or will be contacted and asked to self-isolate.
As I have stressed with previous outbreaks, it is critical that we do not shame or stigmatize individuals with COVID-19 or their close contacts.
COVID-19 is a reality for all of us. These students and staff and all their close contacts should be treated with support and understanding.
As I mentioned yesterday, even with the cautious approach we have been taking, we expected that we would eventually see some examples of transmission in schools.
AHS is investigating and will assess, in collaboration with the school, school authority and Alberta Education, if any additional measures are needed at the school.
At this point, there is no evidence to suggest that the school will need to transition to a different learning model or that other staff and students are at risk.
Parents with a child in that school need to know that this school has done nothing wrong. The school should not be targeted with accusations of being unsafe.
In particular, I want to ask media to not target this school, as I have heard happened at St. Wilfrid Elementary in Calgary when their number of cases exceeded five, moving them to a watch level.
Parents, teachers and students are already worried and trying to sort through the challenge of having their school identified in the news.
This is made worse by media going on site to interview members of the school community.
Let me repeat that it was inevitable that transmission would happen in a school environment. Our commitment is to minimize this, prevent onward spread, and continue to learn and adjust. Blaming or shaming interfere with these goals rather than helping.
Across the province as of this morning, there have been 78 cases of COVID-19 who attended school while infectious.
Currently, only 57 out of the 2,415 schools in the province have reported an infectious case that attended the school.
To date, the episode that I am speaking about today is the only time where it seems that transmission likely happened in a school environment. Managing transmission in schools is part of learning to live with COVID-19 and the reason we have aggressive public health measures in place.
Identifying in-school transmission potential quickly and taking action is crucial to limiting the spread and keeping schools safe.
This is, however, another reminder that COVID-19 is part of our new normal.
As I’ve previously mentioned, the more cases we see in the community, the more likely we are to see COVID-19 in schools.
We all have a role to play in limiting the number of these infections, preventing large outbreaks, and preventing onward spread of sporadic cases.
And if we all continue to follow public health measures, we can push overall active cases down, which will help students remain in the classroom.
We need to keep working together to keep each other safe, both from COVID-19 and from a need for more aggressive restrictions inside or outside of schools.
We can all help prevent outbreaks by being extra diligent in the weeks ahead.
Living with COVID-19 means seeking balance between limiting the harms of COVID and limiting the harms of COVID restrictions.
As always, I continue to monitor new evidence as it emerges, and will adapt my advice on the school re-entry plan if needed.
We are all in this together, and we are all still protecting each other.
Thank you and I am happy to take questions.