Respiratory illness takes toll on student attendance | DrumhellerMail
Last updateThu, 30 Nov 2023 8am

Respiratory illness takes toll on student attendance

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Schools throughout Alberta, including Drumheller, are seeing elevated absenteeism this fall as respiratory illnesses spread.
Julia Harvie-Shemko, Communications Manager for Alberta Health Services (AHS) Central region says an increase in respiratory illness is typically expected over the winter.
“However we are experiencing more cases overall than we normally would at this time of year, indicating an early start to the respiratory illness season,” she said. “This is likely due in part to the fact that these illnesses were effectively suppressed over the past two years due to COVID restrictions. Similar trends are being seen across Canada and in other countries.”
“The increase in school outbreaks may also be caused, in part, to parents keeping their children home when sick more now than in the past.”
On November 2, AHS sent a letter to parents at Drumheller Valley Secondary School (DVSS) noting there was an outbreak at the school.
Symptoms of respiratory illness include cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss or altered sense of taste and smell, nasal congestion and fever. During the outbreak, it recommends students who are ill remain away from school until their symptoms have improved and they have been free of fever for over 24 hours.
“In line with past practice, ‘outbreak’ status is defined by the threshold of 10 per cent total absenteeism. It includes all respiratory illnesses; it is not specific to any illness as students are not routinely tested,” said Harvie-Shemko.
She adds for influenza and COVID-19, immunization is an important step in protecting yourself and those around you.
Information on booking an appointment for yourself or your children can be found in the Alberta Vaccine Booking System at:

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