Province's 'Safe Schools' plan details steps after positive COVID-19 test

Two cases of COVID-19 in the same school would trigger the declaration of an outbreak — but not automatically shut down the school.

Contact tracing, priority testing highlighted in cases of confirmed infections

Public health officials have a detailed — but flexible — set of guidelines for dealing with a positive case of COVID-19 in a Saskatchewan classroom. (Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images)

The provincial government has released protocols for positive COVID-19 tests in Saskatchewan schools.

The education and health ministry plan says if a child, teacher or staff member tests positive, public health will step in.

Contact tracing will begin immediately to identify people who are close contacts of the infected person. This would automatically include everyone who lives in the same home, plus other people deemed to be close contacts through the public health investigation.

Health officials will also contact all teachers, staff, parents and caregivers of students in the same classroom of a person with COVID-19. People designated as non-close contacts will be advised to self-monitor for symptoms and will be offered priority testing.

The province says a positive case in a classroom may not necessarily present a high risk to the entire group — though the policy does allow for the scenario where an entire classroom is directed to self-isolate at home.

Outbreak threshold: two cases in same school

If two students test positive for COVID-19 in the same school, an outbreak will be declared.

However, the declaration won't necessarily trigger a school closure; its aim is to mobilize a coordinated response by public health. It will trigger a notification to all parents of children in that school and a public notice on the government's website.

A second positive case within the same classroom will cause the entire class to be placed under "alternate instruction," or non-classroom arrangements for two weeks and health officials will offer guidance on a safe return.

This alternate instruction could also be applied to sections of schools, or even entire schools if there are two or more cases in more than one classroom and there are shared amenities like washrooms and buses.

A school could also be moved entirely to non-classroom learning if health officers are unable to determine a link between cases through contact tracing or they decide there is a high risk of community transmission.

In all cases, public health will outline specific actions — including cleaning or different classroom layouts — before regular instruction will be safe to resume.

with files from Laura Sciarpelletti