A few weeks after back-to-school, COVID-19 cases are down among kids and teens in Alberta

Alberta students have been back in class for a few weeks now and, so far, there hasn’t been an increase in COVID-19 cases among school-aged kids.

Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases among 10- to 19-year-olds has actually been trending downward, while it’s stayed relatively flat among those aged five to nine.

At the same time, far more kids and teens have been getting tested for COVID-19 in September, compared with earlier in the pandemic.

In-person classes resumed at many schools in Alberta on Sept. 1, while others welcomed students back several days later.

Since classes resumed, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the following weekly results were observed among those aged five to 19:

  • 1st week after classes resumed: 205 cases on more than 11,000 tests.
  • 2nd week after classes resumed: 183 cases on more than 18,000 tests.
  • 3rd week after classes resumed: 122 cases on more than 14,000 tests.  

Looking across all the COVID-19 data dating back to the beginning of the pandemic, Hinshaw noted the infection rates for school-aged kids have reflected what was happening in the community. 

“The weekly number of cases in those aged five to 19 has been most impacted by community transition trends,” Hinshaw said.

The peak in cases among school-aged kids came in April, she said, when COVID-19 cases, in general, were at their height.

During a single week in April, 216 cases were detected out of 2,257 tests on people aged five to 19, she said.

“I want to highlight these numbers not to minimize the importance of school safety but rather to stress, once again, the importance of limiting community transmission to make school re-entry successful,” Hinshaw said.

As of Thursday, she said, there were active alerts or outbreaks at 97 schools across Alberta, with 163 active cases among students.

“This represents about four per cent of schools in the province,” she said.

“There are 32 school outbreaks, seven of which have had likely transmission within the school in at least one cases, and four of which have five or more cases,” she added.

Alberta Health defines an outbreak as two or more cases among students at a school.

An outbreak declaration is “not a sign a school is unsafe,” Hinshaw said, noting the vast majority of students with COVID-19, to date, have acquired it outside of school.

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