We’ve had some questions about our system’s response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Alberta is moving forward with more aggressive measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Parents/caregivers, students and Maskwacîsak are asked to stay informed, and please review the following information.
Source: Alberta Health Services
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses.
Novel (novel virus refers to a virus not seen before) coronaviruses, like COVID-19, are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans. This means people have no immunity against it and it has no specific vaccine or treatment.
COVID-19 is transmitted through person-to-person spread by:
- larger droplets, like from a cough or sneeze
- touching contaminated objects or surfaces, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- COVID-19 is not airborne and cannot spread through the air over long distances or times, like the measles
- Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can spread from person to person through close contact.
Studies suggest that the virus generally only survives for a few hours on a surface, though it may be possible for it to survive several days under ideal conditions.
How is MESC responding?
The situation with COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) is changing rapidly. Information and updates from Alberta Health Services are being shared twice daily from their website. MESC has been communicating this information with principals and staff, who are then sharing with students, parents and community members through the MESC website, MESC Facebook & through letters.
In addition to following Alberta Health Service’s direction, MESC will:
- Remind all students about normal precautions to take which include frequent hand washing, covering one’s mouth and nose when coughing, staying at home if feeling ill, and contacting a doctor or 811 Health Link if there are any questions or concerns about their health.
- Ensure MESC’s handwashing posters are located in every student and staff washroom.
- Add additional washroom checks by the custodial staff at each school.
- Continue to follow current processes for monitoring and reporting of unusual cases of illness and clusters of illness using their established Maskwacîs Health Services contacts.
- Cancel all out of province school travel
- Review all upcoming field trips
- Cancel parent teacher interviews
- As of the first week of March, MESC has implemented an extra cleaning protocol and will bring in support to do extra disinfection of all schools and administration buildings during the miyoskâmin (spring) break
- On March 17, 2020, MESC disabled water fountains as a precautionary measure as advised by Maskwacis Health Services for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. (Parents/guardians may send water bottles and MESC will provide alternative sources of water for all students and staff)
- For 2020-2021 School Re-Entry, water fountains in MESC schools will undergo continuous sanitization to ensure safety.
- School gatherings have been cancelled or postponed (eg. feasts and regular assemblies)
- MESC has recommended all staff cancel all out of country travel until further notice
What preventative measures should I take?
- Wash your hands frequently. Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Practice social distancing. Social distancing is maintaining at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid sharing water bottles, utensils, dishes and food.
- Practice good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately, and use hand sanitizer after disposing tissue.
- Avoid shaking hands. Instead, nod or wave.
Am I at risk for COVID-19? Do I need to be assessed for COVID-19?
Source: Alberta Health Services
You should be assessed for COVID-19 if:
You returned to Alberta on or after March 12th:
- ALL travelers who returned to Alberta from outside Canada on or after March 12th are required to selfisolate immediately, for 14 days, and monitor for symptoms.
- If symptoms develop, remain at home and call 811 immediately.
You returned to Alberta before March 12th:
- Travelers who returned to Alberta from Italy, Iran, the Hubei Province of China or the Grande Princess Cruise ship, before March 12th, must also self-isolate, and must monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after return. If symptoms do develop, stay home and call 811 immediately.
- Travelers who returned to Alberta from other destinations, before March 12th, must monitor themselves for symptoms.
- Testing is currently focused on individuals who have traveled outside Canada or had contact with someone diagnosed as having COVID-19, or have developed symptoms of COVID-19.
You have symptoms:
- Anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms should self-isolate and minimize contact with others for 14 days. This includes symptoms such as cough, runny nose, and sore throat. Visit www.ahs.ca/covid and complete the online self-assessment tool to determine if you should receive testing for COVID-19
- If COVID-19 testing as not being recommended, it is still essential that you maintain self-isolation.
- Please do not visit a hospital, physician’s office, lab or healthcare facility without consulting Health Link (811) first.
- If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and advise them that you may have COVID-19.
What is self-isolation?
Source: World Health Organization
- Self-isolation means avoiding situations where you could infect other people. This means all situations where you may come in contact with others, such as social gatherings, work, school, child care, athletic events, university, faith-based gatherings, healthcare facilities, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and all public gatherings.
- You should, (where possible) not use public transportation including buses, taxis, or ride sharing.
- As much as possible, you should limit contact with people other than the family members/companions who you travelled with.
- You should avoid having visitors to your home, but it is okay for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.
- You can also use delivery or pick up services for errands such as grocery shopping.
- Avoid sharing household items such as dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, pillows, or other items with other people in your home. After using these items, you should wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place in the dishwasher for cleaning, or wash in the washing machine.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water and regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched and shared surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.
- If you need to leave your home for an urgent errand, such as picking up essential medication, as a precaution to reduce risk of spread, you should wear a surgical mask while you are out.
- During this time, it is important that you monitor your health for symptoms like fever or cough, and call
- Health Link 811 if you have any concerns.
Government of Alberta
Alberta Health Services
Alberta Health Services
World Health Organization