EDMONTON, AB – Mask-wearing in classrooms will be left up to individual school boards, as the province has announced it will not be mandating it in schools this fall.
However, the province says students and staff showing core COVID-19 symptoms are still required to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange says having the measures in place, along with growing vaccination rates, they’re confident students and parents can look forward to in-person classes, with no restrictions on in-person learning or extracurricular activities.
“Thanks to the power of vaccines, I’m pleased that students can return to a normal school year in September,” she says.
“The safety of students and staff remains our number one priority, and we have a detailed plan that includes contingency scenarios for continuing student learning if there is a significant change in the COVID-19 situation.”
One of those contingencies includes the ability for AHS, through the zone of the Medical Officer of Health, to recommend masking to manage an outbreak and prevent more widespread transmission.
The Lethbridge School Division says it will take this information and continue to develop its re-entry plan for the upcoming school year, adding it expects to release that plan next week.
However, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw also announced Friday that the province will be extending the use of current testing, tracing, and isolating practices for another six weeks.
The province’s top doctor said the decision was made to extend the practice until September 27th after a thorough review of two weeks’ worth of COVID-19 in Alberta, as well as emerging evidence from other jurisdictions. Dr. Hinshaw says throughout the pandemic, Alberta Health has monitored the situation closely and adapted any COVID-19 response as necessary.
“Reviewing data from Alberta and across the globe in the past few weeks has led me to a point where I feel that a pause on the next changes is the best way forward,” she says.
“I deeply care about and am committed to, the overall health of all in Alberta. This is why I base my decisions on science and my professional assessment of an ever-changing situation.”
Before the delayed timeline, the province was set to lift mandatory 10-day isolation for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result, as well as mandatory testing at assessment centres for any symptomatic individual on August 16th.