Students won’t have to wear masks at school in September, except when they are recommended for local outbreaks.
Masking will also be required on school buses until Sept. 27.
On Friday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced school jurisdictions will have the ability, and the corresponding accountability, to put in place local measures, such as physical distancing, cohorting, and masking requirements, that may exceed provincial guidance.
“Thanks to the power of vaccines, I’m pleased that students can return to a normal school year in September,” LaGrange said.
“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. We will continue to follow the expert advice of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and are ready to make changes if needed.”
School jurisdictions, in partnership with Alberta Health Services, will determine outbreaks.
“While schools will not have to follow last year’s measures, they will still use good health practices and follow certain health guidelines,” LaGrange said.
Students, families and school staff should continue to screen daily for symptoms. If a student or staff member has any core COVID-19 symptom they are required to isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
To further promote a safe school year, all eligible Albertans, including students, teaching staff, parents and guardians, are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated with both doses before the school year begins.
Starting Sept. 7, temporary COVID-19 immunization clinics will be set up in schools for Grade 7 to 12 students, teachers and staff.
As of Thursday, 65 per cent of 12 to 14 year olds in Alberta had received one dose and 54 per cent had two doses. Sixty-seven per cent of 15 to 19 year olds had one dose and 56 per cent had two doses.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said vaccines are the most important protective measure.
“I encourage parents and guardians to arrange vaccine appointments for themselves and their children as soon as possible. This will help further strengthen protection in schools and benefit all youth, whether or not they can be immunized yet,” Hinshaw said.
LaGrange said early data shows that school boards have over $400 million in operating reserves, and over $130 million in COVID mitigation funding to be used as school jurisdictions see fit.
“I’m confident that school divisions have the funding they need as they go back to school.”