Alberta’s education minister says all kindergarten to Grade 12 students, other than some in northern Alberta, can return to schools following the May long weekend.
Adriana LaGrange said Wednesday that students in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, will learn from home for an extra week due to continuedhigh COVID-19 case counts in the area.
Those students are expected to return to in-person learning on May 31.
“The education system reset we announced in May has been very successful,” LaGrange said. “It has helped to alleviate the operational pressures tied to the rise of COVID-19 cases in our communities.
“However, it is prudent to extend at-home learning for schools within the region of the Municipality of Wood Buffalo.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said it’s safe for children to return to school.
“I am confident that we can all work together to keep cases falling in young Albertans,” she said.
“I know that in-person learning is critically important for many kids’ educational and social development, and can provide a sense of normalcy in these unusual times.”
Hinshaw said she understands parents’ desire to keep children safe, but noted there has been a sharp decline in cases in school-aged children as the number in the community started to drop.
Hinshaw announced another 908 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths due to the virus.
A total of 685 people were in hospital, with 185 of those patients in intensive care.
Hinshaw said the province is making some changes in continuing care facilities as more Albertans get vaccinated.
“The most significant change we are making is a shift to a vaccination-based approach for assessing any additional precautions,” she said.
Starting May 31, Hinshaw said residents will no longer be required to be in quarantine when they are admitted to a facility or return from same-day or overnight outings if they are fully vaccinated.
Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated residents, she said, will be subject to twice-daily symptom checks for 14 days.
Residents who don’t pass the health screening, those who return from international travel or anyone with COVID-19 symptoms will still be required to quarantine, Hinshaw added.
The Canadian Press
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