COVID-19 cases among school-aged kids in Alberta are at their highest level on record

Cases of COVID-19 have been rising among school-aged kids and teens in Alberta over the past week, but so too has the number of young people being tested.

Testing also higher than prior to September but positivity rates shot up in past week

Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton is one of 14 schools in Alberta under a COVID-19 'watch,' meaning five or more cases were detected. (Sam Martin/CBC)

Alberta has never recorded more cases of COVID-19 among school-aged kids and teens than it did over the past week.

Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases has continued to rise among five- to nine-year-olds and has shot up, especially, among 10- to 19-year-olds.

In-person classes resumed at many schools in Alberta on Sept. 1 and for several weeks the number of new daily cases had been on the decline.

That changed during the last week in September, when cases start to rise.

In early October, that trend has continued, with an average of 45 cases per day among school-aged kids and teens over the past week on record.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, has noted there was "a massive increase in the number of children who are getting tested" in September compared with the spring and summer. But testing volumes edged down, slightly, in the first week of October.

The proportion of tests coming back positive, meanwhile, grew to nearly 1.3 per cent, up from about 0.7 per cent in the last week of September.

The previous peak in cases among school-aged kids came in April. At that time, Hinshaw said about eight or nine per cent of tests were coming back positive.

As of Thursday, Hinshaw said there were active alerts (one case) or outbreaks (two or more cases) at 170 schools, which represents about seven per cent of schools in Alberta.

There were 370 active cases among those who attend these schools.

As of Thursday, Hinshaw said there were 72 schools with outbreaks, including 14 on the "watch" list, meaning they have five or more cases:

  • Coopers Crossing School in Airdrie.
  • St. Wilfrid Elementary School in Calgary.
  • Clarence Sansom School in Calgary.
  • Nelson Mandela High School in Calgary.
  • Canyon Meadows School in Calgary.
  • Archbishop O'Leary in Edmonton.
  • Centre High in Edmonton.
  • Ross Sheppard in Edmonton.
  • Vimy Ridge in Edmonton.
  • Highlands School in Edmonton.
  • Austin O'Brien in Edmonton.
  • Harry Ainlay School in Edmonton.
  • Queen Elizabeth School in Edmonton.
  • Edmonton Islamic Academy in Edmonton.

You can find a full list of school outbreaks on the Alberta Health website.

Hinshaw said the vast majority of infected school-aged kids appear to have acquired COVID-19 outside of the school setting.

"So far, in-school transmission has likely occurred in 27 schools," Hinshaw said.

That compares with 11 schools a week earlier.