Calgary

Zero positive COVID-19 cases detected as part of rapid testing pilot at Calgary Catholic school

Alberta's rapid-testing pilot project at two Calgary schools has so far yielded zero positive tests at one of them, while the other school would not reveal its testing results, but said its outbreak is now over.

Calgary Board of Education wouldn't say if any cases were detected at its participating school

The CBE and CCSD say they support expanding the rapid testing pilot to other schools. (CBC)

Alberta's rapid-testing pilot project at two Calgary schools has so far yielded zero positive COVID-19 tests at one of them, while the other school would not reveal its testing results, but said its outbreak is now over.

The pilot project kicked off at the Calgary Board of Education's (CBE) Rundle School on March 18, and at Calgary Catholic School District's (CCSD) St. John XXIII School on March 22.

Both were chosen for the pilot while in outbreak status, meaning the schools each had five or more positive cases. 

Andrea Holowka, superintendent of learning services with the CCSD, said rapid testing hasn't detected a single case at St. John XXIII.

"What it did, though, was give the school community some assurance that anyone who was asymptomatic would have been caught through this process," she said. 

Holowka said just under 400 students and 50 staff were tested. The school has 440 students.

"We had a pretty decent sample size of the school population wanting to participate and with that, again, showing that this is a safe place for our students to come and learn."

Holowka said the board looks forward to expand the pilot to more schools.

The district said at the height of the outbreak it had 11 positive cases and 93 students in isolation, but the outbreak has since ended.

"At this time, all students who were positive or who were sent home to isolate have returned to the school in-person," a spokesperson said in an email.

Rapid-test results not revealed at CBE school

The CBE, meanwhile, says 63 per cent of students and 70 per cent of staff who were eligible for testing at Rundle school were tested.

"Testing went very well and we would support expanding the pilot to other schools following the break," the CBE said in a written statement.

The CBE wouldn't say if any positive tests were detected in the pilot project at its school, instead directing that question to the provincial government, which didn't provide an answer, either.

"Positive results from rapid tests are considered preliminary and should be confirmed with an additional PCR test at an Alberta Health Services assessment centre. All positive cases in schools will be reported per usual," the education minister's press secretary, Justin Marshall, said in an email.

"In the coming weeks we will provide an update on the rapid test pilot," Marshall added.

The CBE said Rundle School is no longer in outbreak status and has only one active case, while 28 students and four staff members are still isolating.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary, currently focused on bringing you stories related to education in Alberta. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alta. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

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