As the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in the province rise to 56, the government of Alberta announced Sunday afternoon that effective immediately, student attendance at schools is prohibited throughout the province.
It was announced on March 15, that 17 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Alberta, bringing the number of cases to 56, three of the new cases are in the Edmonton zone, and 14 are in the Calgary zone.
“At least two cases identified in the last two days appear to have been acquired through community transmission from an unknown source, and seven cases occurred as a result of a single gathering in the Calgary zone,” said the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Deena Hinshaw.
“We need to put in more resections to help slow the virus and protect public health,” Hinshaw said.
The Emergency Management Cabinet Committee approved Hinshaw’s recommendation that students no longer attend classes in schools, or post-secondary institutions until further notice.
“Every K-12 student will receive a final mark, and students will progress to their next grade level next year,” said the Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange.
“Provincial assessments, such as provincial achievement tests, will be cancelled. At this time, diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will continue. Every student who is eligible to graduate from grade 12 this year will graduate,” she added.
In addition to K-12 school classes being cancelled, post-secondary classes are also cancelled. However, post-secondary campuses will still remain open to staff and administration.
School authorities are still expected to continue their regular day-to-day operations while ensuring the safety of school facilities.
All maintenance, capital projects, cleaning, and administrative work will also continue.
The Alberta government will be working with post-secondary intuitions to ensure that the announced measures to limit the COVD-19 spread will not prevent students from being eligible for admission to post-secondary studies for the upcoming school year.
“It has become clear that it would be challenging to implement health recommendations like social distancing, and proper cleaning protocols,” LaGrange said.
Adding, “The safety of our students, teachers, and staff is the number one priority for all of us. We are all in this together.”
Along with cancelling classes, the government of Alberta has also announced that all licensed child care facilities, out of school care programs, and preschool programs are closed indefinitely.
“As a parent with children in the school system and in after school programs, I recognize that this is extremely disruptive for many families,” Hinshaw said.
“This is not a decision we are making lightly. I made this recommendation after extensive discussions with school boards and in consideration of community transmission that were identified over the weekend,” she said.
All long-term care and other continuing care facilities have been advised to limit the visitation to essential visitors only, and places of worship are now no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings.
“These decisions are not made lightly, and I know they will have a tremendous impact on Albertans’ lives,” Hinshaw said.
“I know some Albertans may wonder whether these measures are truly necessary, I want to stress that they are necessary,” she said.
“It’s crucial that we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVD-19. The most effective way to do this is by taking a compressive society-wide approach, not testing alone, not contact tracing alone, not social distancing alone, all of them together,” she added.