Masks to be mandatory in Alberta schools – Update on back to school plan
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Coronavirus invasion of major league baseball was bound to happen sooner or later
Well, we knew something like this coronavirus invasion of major league baseball was bound to happen sooner or later. Now, all we can do is hope that other sports organizations do not go through similar messes.
But don’t bet against it happening somewhere else, and soon.
My guess from the beginning was that baseball would be first on the list of pending and potential disasters. Operating without the semblance of a safety “bubble” was accurately described as either arrogant or foolhardy — of course all players would avoid mingling in the public or attending places where individuals sing or dance or cavort in nameless ways.
Hockey, so far, owns the biggest safety record: thousands of tests and no positive findings. In addition, few of the NHL’s players have openly elected to step away from the test, quarantine and isolate-when-necessary philosophy introduced by commissioner Gary Bettman, whose political instincts have ranked him among the least popular and most effective leaders in the sport’s history.
In a Bettman-directed universe, favoured hockey stories would all be politically correct, linked only to hard-fought victories, lovable team pets, young children and well-publicized contributions to charity by league, franchise or a smiling individual.
Today, it is obviously unfair to take offence at his quiet-at-all-cost stance. As long as occasional players choose to come forward when COVID-19 affects them, much of the media, and therefore most of the dedicated, banner-waving outsiders will be content with whatever information becomes public.
No such refuge is possible for baseball, despite the good fortune provided when Canadian decision-makers ruled against the possibility that U.S teams could cross a mostly-locked border and fly freely through our land for as long as necessary to complete a 60-game season and possible playoff games. Try to imagine the fuss that would be brewing at this moment if anyone who had been within reach of the Miami Marlins was scheduled to land at Pearson Airport in Toronto any time in the near future!
On Tuesday, it was reported that four more Marlins had been found with the infection, bringing the team total to 17; two coaches and 11 players were infected previously. At least half-a-dozen games have been cancelled or postponed, with more schedule changes expected.
Predictably, players who first objected to the baseball plan to operate without clear protection spoke out quickly. Los Angeles Dodgers lefthander David Price was among the first to remove himself from the season.
“Now we’ll really get to see if baseball is going to put players’ health first,” he said. “Part of the reason I’m at home right now is because players’ health hasn’t been put first.”
Washington manager Dave Martinez, whose Nationals are in a four-game home-and-home series with the Toronto Blue Jays, also commented: “My level of concern has gone from an eight to about a 12. I’m going to be honest with you: I’m scared.”
Update 3: Charges laid against 4 people – Drayton Valley RCMP on scene at firearms incident
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