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Alberta

Masks to be mandatory in Alberta schools – Update on back to school plan

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School, classroom, students, teacher

From the Province of Alberta

School health measures now include mandatory masks

As part of a number of new school safety measures to combat COVID-19, mask use for Grade 4 to 12 students, and all school staff, will be mandatory when school returns for the 2020-21 year.

While mandatory mask use is for students in Grades 4 to 12 and all staff, all students and staff in public, separate, Francophone, charter and independent schools will receive two reusable masks from Alberta’s government. More than 1.6 million masks will be distributed to 740,000 students and 90,000 staff. Additional single-use masks will be available at schools, if required.

Mask use will be mandatory for staff and teachers in all settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Students will be required to wear them in all shared and common areas such as hallways and on buses. Exemptions will be made for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical or other needs.

Mask use for kindergarten to Grade 3 students will continue to be optional. Mask use for younger children is a challenge due to difficulties with proper fit and compliance. In addition, evidence shows that children under 10 may be less likely than older children or adults to transmit COVID-19.

“The safety of our staff and students continues to be my number 1 priority. Since cancelling in-person classes in March and developing our school re-entry plan, we have been clear that we would continue to adapt our guidelines as necessary based on current medical advice. These new safety measures will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our schools, and we will continue to work with our school authorities to ensure they are equipped for a successful start to the school year.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“After reviewing the emerging evidence, it is clear that masks can play an important role in limiting the spread of COVID-19. I am not making this updated recommendation lightly, but acting on the best current evidence available. While masks are important, I want to stress that they are only one of the many public health measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of students, staff and families.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta

“CASS’ board of directors appreciates the government’s commitment to adapting Alberta’s health guidelines as new medical information becomes available and for ensuring school divisions are receiving the protective equipment they need for a successful transition back to school. This announcement clearly demonstrates Alberta Education’s willingness to take the necessary steps to support the safety of staff and students. We appreciate their continued collaboration and support as we approach the beginning of a new school year.”

Bevan Daverne, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents

Alberta’s government remains committed to adjusting the school re-entry guidelines based on current medical advice. The chief medical officer of health has been studying the evidence around masking in schools, and this decision is a direct result of evolving medical advice.

Face shields

School staff will receive one reusable face shield for their use in the schools. Shield use is at the discretion of the individual staff member. Plastic face shields can help reduce exposure but are not equivalent to masks. A mask must still be worn while wearing a face shield.

Hand sanitizer

About 466,000 litres of hand sanitizer will be distributed between all school authorities. The specific volume provided to an individual school authority will be based on student population.

Thermometers

Each school will receive two contactless thermometers to assist with managing student and staff health. Thermometer use will be at the discretion of the school authority.

Staff testing

Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services are working hard to expand testing capacity and reduce turnaround times for testing, including in-school staff, teachers and students, so that anyone with symptoms or close contacts of cases can be rapidly tested and receive test results promptly.

All supplies will be distributed to school authorities by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Authorities will then distribute to individual schools, staff and/or students based on the needs of their own communities.

Provincial health guidance for a safe return to school will continue to evolve as necessary to reflect the latest evidence on the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individual school authorities are developing return-to-school plans that meet the needs of their own communities. These plans are based on direction provided under the provincial school re-entry plan, and supporting health guidance documents.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan is a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, diversify, and create tens of thousands of jobs now. By building schools, roads and other core infrastructure we are benefiting our communities. By diversifying our economy and attracting investment with Canada’s most competitive tax environment, we are putting Alberta on a path for a generation of growth. Alberta came together to save lives by flattening the curve and now we must do the same to save livelihoods, grow and thrive.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s government announced students and staff would return to school under scenario 1 – near-normal daily operations with health measures – on July 21.
  • School authorities are required to be prepared to move between the three scenarios outlined in the provincial school re-entry plan. Changes to scenarios will be determined by Alberta Education.

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Alberta

Homan remains in top spot after stealing point in 10th end for win over Carey

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CALGARY — Ontario’s Rachel Homan kicked off play in the championship pool Friday with a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey of Team Wild Card One at the Canadian women’s curling playdowns.

Carey, who’s filling in at skip for Tracy Fleury this week, had hammer in the 10th end but gave up a steal of one when she barely missed a runback double-takeout attempt.

The top-seeded Homan improved to 8-1 along with Canada’s Kerri Einarson, who defeated Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 10-6.

In other early games at the Markin MacPhail Centre, Alberta’s Laura Walker needed an extra end to get by Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges 7-6 and Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones posted a 12-8 win over Beth Peterson of Team Wild Card Three.

Another draw was scheduled for Friday night and three more draws were set for Saturday.

Homan, a three-time Hearts champion, started slowly by settling for singles in three of the first five ends. Carey, who edged Homan in the 2019 Scotties final, picked up deuces in the second and fourth before giving up a steal in the sixth.

Carey tried to blank the seventh end but her stone hung around for a point. Homan was a tad wide on an up-weight raise attempt in the eighth, allowing Carey to steal for a two-point cushion.

A Homan deuce tied the game but Carey couldn’t take advantage of hammer coming home.

Jones, meanwhile, who’s aiming for a record seventh national title, stole five points in the 10th end to improve to 7-2. Saskatchewan, Alberta and Quebec were tied in fourth place at 6-3 and the remaining wild-card teams were at 5-4.

The top three teams in the eight-team pool will advance to the playoffs Sunday.

The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal for a berth in the evening final against the first-place team.

The Hearts winner will return as Team Canada at the 2022 national playdowns in Thunder Bay, Ont. The champion will also earn a berth in the Olympic Trials in November at Saskatoon.

The men’s national championship — the Tim Hortons Brier — starts March 5 at the same Canada Olympic Park venue. The Hearts is the first of six bonspiels to be held at the arena through late April.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta and its physicians move to end ugly feud over fees with new tentative deal

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EDMONTON — The Alberta government and its 11,000 physicians have taken a first step toward resolving an ugly, fractious year-long dispute over fees and working conditions.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Paul Boucher, the head of the Alberta Medical Association, say they have reached a tentative deal on a new master agreement.

Boucher declined to provide specifics, saying he first wants to let members discuss and ratify the deal and that it will work within the government’s “budget imperatives.”

Alberta’s physicians collectively receive $5 billion a year, and the Alberta budget will see that figure rise slightly to $5.3 billion over the next three years.

A year ago, Shandro unilaterally cancelled the master agreement with the AMA and began imposing new rules on fees and visits, saying physician costs were rising too high year over year and were not sustainable.

That led some doctors to withdraw services, the AMA launched a lawsuit and Shandro was criticized for fighting with doctors in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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