Alberta residents will have to follow public health restrictions aimed at reducing the number of COVID-19 cases in the province for the next two weeks, but students across the province will soon find themselves back in the classroom.
The health measures, which were implemented in December and will now run until at Jan. 21 at least, prohibit all indoor and outdoor social gatherings. Close contacts are limited to household members only, and people who live alone are allowed up to two close contacts for in-person visiting, with those two people remaining the same for the duration of the restriction period. Masks are mandatory for all indoor facilities.
At a press conference Jan. 7, Premier Jason Kenney said the province has made progress in fighting COVID-19 “but we are far from being out of this.”
“The health measures that were put in place in December have helped to reduce the number of active cases, but it’s not enough. Case numbers, hospitalizations and testing positivity rates remain high,” he said. “The worst thing we could do would be to increase the chances of another surge, which would threaten our health-care system again and require more restrictions. We must be careful and deliberate, and avoid the rollercoaster of uncertainty that a new surge would create.”
But K-12 students across the province will be going back to school Jan. 11, as was originally planned. Kenney said the decision to return to in-class learning is based on evidence showing case rates in schools plateaued before the winter break and then dropped in December once restrictions on social gatherings and group activities were put in place.
“At the beginning of the school year parents across Alberta made the choice that was best for their kids and family situation as to whether or not to have their children attend class in person this year,” he said. “But for younger children learning at home can often be a challenge from an academic, social and emotional perspective. And we also know how important a classroom environment is where children can interact with teachers and their peers.”
There are currently 13,298 active cases in Alberta, according to provincial officials. There are 871 people in hospital due to COVID-19, including 139 in intensive care. There are currently 1,216 active and 6,201 recovered cases at long-term care facilities and supportive/home living sites, and 811 of the 1,217 reported deaths (67 per cent) have been in these facilities. To date, 93,954 Albertans have recovered from COVID-19.