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School advocacy group asks for more details on COVID-19 outbreaks

Last Updated Sep 10, 2020 at 9:45 am MDT

An empty teacher's desk is seen at the front of a empty classroom at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver on September 5, 2014. Alberta is planning to reopen schools in the province this fall even as cases of COVID-19 in the province continue to grow. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – A public school advocacy group believes the government’s COVID-19 reporting system doesn’t go far enough.

Earlier this week, Alberta Health unveiled an online map that will show which schools are experiencing outbreaks.

However, Support Our Students (SOS) Alberta wants more data released, including the number of children and staff in isolation.

Wing Li with SOS said the group decided to launch its own COVID-19 tracker at the start of the school year, gathering media and parent reports of cases.

She said, so far, it’s proven to be a lifeline for families, with close to 50,000 visits to the tracker.

“We have been getting lots of parents saying, ‘this is such a good service, we’re so glad you’re doing this. We just want to know what’s happening.’”

RELATED: SOS Alberta introduces COVID-19 tracker for back to school

In a statement, SOS said families are owed transparency on the full extent of the disruption caused by COVID-19 as it is directly impacting their livelihood.

“After six months of preparation of a ‘robust’ plan, the Government of Alberta was not prepared to offer Albertans a trusted source of COVID-19 school information in time for school re-entry truly,” said Medeana Moussa with SOS.

“(This) highlights how little this government understands the concerns of parents and how little effort they invested in preparation. The public demand for this information from a trusted source was eminently foreseeable.”

Li added that giving people as much information as possible will help head off speculation.

“You need to be able to let people know that we’re telling you everything that you need to know within the confines of confidentiality.”

As of Wednesday, high schools in Lethbridge and Calgary reported outbreaks of COVID-19.

Alberta Health said an outbreak is declared when there are two or more confirmed cases in a school within a 14 day period where the disease could have been acquired or transmitted in the school.