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Didsbury's Ross Ford Elementary students, staff self-isolating after positive COVID cases confirmed

Elementary school cases and high school cases believed to be connected
MVT stock Ross Ford Elementary
Three confirmed cases of COVID-19 were identified in the Ross Ford Elementary school community. File photo/MVP Staff

DIDSBURY - A second Didsbury school has been placed on alert status after three confirmed cases of COVID-19 were identified in the Ross Ford Elementary school community, officials said Wednesday.

“I believe we have about 45 students and seven staff isolation, starting late last week,” said Kurt Sacher, Chinook’s Edge School Division superintendent. “Some of them may have started isolating on Friday (Feb. 29).”

Ross Ford has kindergarten to Grade 4 students.

The division is not permitted to say whether those who have tested positive are students or staff.

The students and staff now in isolation are expected to remain in isolation until next week, he said.

The 299-student Didsbury High School was placed on alert status last week after three positive cases of COVID-19 were found in that school community. 

As a result about 100 students and eight staff members at that school are currently in self-isolation.

Asked if officials believe the Ross Ford and Didsbury High School cases are related, Sacher said yes.

“The best information we have is there is a connection to an event in the community somewhere,” he said. “It is not because of schooling that there is a connection, but there was some sort of an outside event.

“I think it was a private gathering of some sort, is what I understand. We do believe there is some connection between the cases, but that connection did not occur because of school-related activities.”

The out-of-school event is not believed to be the outdoor Mountain View Freedom rally held in Didsbury on Jan. 30, he said.

Outbreak status for schools is upgraded to alert status if there are between two and four positive COVID-19 cases identified in a school community.

Asked if the Didsbury school situation is a concern to him, Sacher said yes.

“It’s always concerning when you have positive cases, but at the moment we are not worried too much because we still do think because they (the cases) are somewhat connected they are relatively isolated and we are hopeful that that we’ve seen the spread that is going to occur, that it is isolated to that group,” he said.

A COVID-19 outbreak has also recently been declared at the Aspen Ridge Lodge seniors home in Didsbury after a staff member tested positive for the virus on Feb. 26.

Eleven residents of the 58-resident facility are current in isolation, which is expected to continue until at least March 12.

According to province’s interactive aggregate data on COVID-19 published Wednesday, there are currently 22 active cases in the Didsbury geographic area, compared with six in the Olds geographic area.

Dan Singleton

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