Alberta won't remove symptoms from COVID-19 student checklist

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Alberta won’t follow B.C’s lead right now and cut down the list of COVID-19 symptoms parents must screen their school children for each morning.

This week B.C. cut 10 symptoms from the list parents must screen for

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said Alberta will not be removing symptoms from the student checklist. (CBC Calgary News at 6)

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Alberta won't follow B.C's lead and cut down the list of COVID-19 symptoms parents must screen their school children for each morning.

The B.C. list of symptoms shrunk by more than half on Monday when the province's health ministry removed 10 of the 17 symptoms from the checklist including a sore throat and a runny nose.

Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, says although mild symptoms are very common in children, it's not a move the province is ready for.

"I think in Alberta, we're not far enough along yet to know whether or not we could take some of those symptoms off of our lists without increasing the risk that COVID-19 could be introduced into the school," Hinshaw said at her regular media briefing.

"So right now we are keeping our list as is."

B.C.'s ministry said it removed some symptoms because of the low probability that the symptoms by themselves indicate the student had COVID-19. 

There was also concern that because those symptoms, which also include headache and fatigue, are so common in children, some kids would be unnecessarily excluded, the ministry added.

"This has been something that has been discussed at length as we try to reach that right balance between keeping our kids in school and making sure that their learning is as smooth as possible, while at the same time minimizing the risk of a COVID-19 introduction and spread," Hinshaw said.

She said Alberta Health officials would be watching the experiences of B.C. and other provinces and territories "and if we feel that we can make that change without putting our schools at risk, then we will consider it."

The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) is not in favour of following B.C.'s lead either, saying any decision must be made through science and research by Hinshaw.

"Daily symptom screenings is a cornerstone of the safety measures in place to protect students, teachers and educational staff in our schools," wrote Jason Schilling, ATA president.

"We would not support any changes to the list of symptoms at this time."