Saskatchewan students have been back in their classrooms for just over a month. And while there have been some COVID-19 cases in schools — including five cases at Holy Cross High School in Saskatoon — Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the overall number of positive cases in schools remains low.
"[The test numbers] are significant, and the test positive rate remains very low overall," he said.
Since Sept. 7, the province has administered 13,968 tests to children and youth under 20.
As of the province's most recent report, there are 35 active cases of COVID-19 in that age group.
Cory Henderson is the parent of four children, one of whom is in Grade 10 at Holy Cross. Henderson said despite the positive cases, his family remains confident in the school's reopening plan.
"The communication has been super strong from the school," he said. "As soon as they heard from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, they notified the entire school population, and then they isolated the specific community and classroom that were caught by the COVID-19 virus."
And while Henderson said it was "a little bit awkward" to be part of the first school community in Saskatchewan to have a positive case, he and his family were unfazed.
"[My son] said 'Yep, it happened, we knew it was going to happen, and we're going to school tomorrow,'" Henderson said. "From his perspective, the plan was just to carry on as usual. Just make sure you're wearing your mask, washing your hands and staying safe."
Henderson said he has heard "no negative reactions" about the positive cases reported this month from the other parents in his social circle, and believes the preventative measures and contact tracing have been effective so far.
"There are all levels of confidence but, quite frankly, I know of no one at the school who was overly concerned," he said.
"I know in my son's social group, there was an individual who might have contracted the virus in his class, so we just made sure we had gone through the right practices of contacting anyone our son was around just to tell them 'Remember, maintain your social distancing, wash your hands and do as we're being told from the province.'
"The [test] did come back negative in that individual, but we're just taking those precautions to keep our family and loved ones safe."
According to Dr. Shahab, the province is prepared to handle an increase in testing and contact tracing should the rate of COVID-19 cases in schools rise.
"[Testing] is ongoing in many of the schools through local public health, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority is able to support that," he said. "There is ample capacity to support additional testing if a school is impacted."