Saskatoon and Regina schools see dozens of COVID-19 cases in first week of classes

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Since the start of the school year, all four big school divisions in Regina and Saskatoon have been informed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority about COVID-19 cases. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
Since the start of the school year, all four big school divisions in Regina and Saskatoon have been informed by the Saskatchewan Health Authority about COVID-19 cases. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

Since classes resumed in Saskatchewan last week, cases of COVID-19 have already been detected among members of the Saskatoon and Regina school communities.

All four big school divisions — Regina Public Schools, Regina Catholic Schools, Saskatoon Public Schools, and Greater Saskatoon Public Schools — have been informed of COVID-19 cases by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

"What happens in the community impacts what happens in our schools," Veronica Baker, manager of communications and marketing at Saskatoon Public Schools, said in an email.

"When cases are high in the community, they rise in our schools."

From Sept. 1 to Sept. 8, Baker's school division reported 28 cases in 18 schools.

Last year, public schools in Saskatoon didn't see their first confirmed case of COVID-19 until Sept. 21, according to Baker.

Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools

The situation is similar at Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

Last school year, no cases were reported at Catholic schools in the city until mid-September.

"Active cases in the community were very low at the start of school last year, which unfortunately isn't the case this year," Derrick Kunz, communications consultant with GSCS, said in an email.

This year, however, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has already notified GSCS of 26 cases in 19 schools as of Sept. 8, according to the division.

"The affected classes have been notified with a letter from the SHA," said Kunz.

"Information from the SHA does not identify individuals or infectious dates, so we are not able to determine if individuals were at school or not."

In a separate email, Kunz said things are still changing when it comes to dealing with COVID-19 in schools.

"If parents or staff members do not volunteer information ... we really have no way of knowing if someone is positive, if they have been directed to self-isolate, or when isolation may end," Kunz said.

The health authority still advises people who test positive to stay at home.

If the school is aware of a student's isolation date and they still show up at school, "they will be put in a separate room, and we will ask parents/caregivers to pick up their child," said Kunz.

Regina Catholic Schools

Regina Catholic Schools publishes COVID-19 notifications on their website.

According to the school division, the Saskatchewan Health Authority letters are only shared with close contacts identified by the health authority.

If a family doesn't receive a letter, that means their children were apparently not impacted, says the RCS website.

Regina Catholic Schools
Regina Catholic Schools

So far, the school division has had two cases since school started, both on Sept. 3, according to the division.

Last school year, the school division did not see any cases during the first week, according to Twylla West, communications and media co-ordinator at Regina Catholic Schools.

"If I recall correctly, it wasn't until October that we had a case," West said in an email.

Regina Public Schools

Since Sept. 3, there have been 13 reported COVID-19 cases at Regina Public Schools, said Terry Lazarou, supervisor of communications at RPS.

"All individuals who the SHA considers to be in contact with the positive case will receive a letter from the SHA," said the RPS in a media advisory from Sept. 7.

One year ago at this time, the school division had no COVID-19 cases, according to Lazarou.

No information about Regina, Saskatoon schools on government website

Despite the reported case numbers, the government of Saskatchewan has none of the Regina or Saskatoon school divisions listed on its COVID-19 Cases in Saskatchewan Schools website.

"The Ministry of Health posts to the public website all school cases that are reported to us by local public health," the ministry said in an email on Thursday afternoon.

"In some cases, if a student was not in school during their infectious period and there is no risk to others in the school environment, local public health does not report it as a school case."

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