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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

Alberta declares outbreaks at university in Edmonton, hospital in Calgary

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EDMONTON — COVID-19 outbreaks have been declared at a hospital in Calgary and a university in Edmonton.

Alberta Health Services says 10 patients and two staff members have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at the Foothills Medical Centre.

All at-risk patients in the three affected units are being offered testing, and contact tracing is ongoing.

Visitors may not visit patients on the units except in end-of-life situations.

In Edmonton, an outbreak at a student residence on the main University of Alberta campus means no varsity athletics for the next two weeks.

The university says in a statement that five members of the men’s residence at St. Joseph’s College have tested positive for COVID-19.

They are isolating, along with 14 other men living at the residence, and the university says it is sanitizing and deep-cleaning areas the five may have been in.

The website for the residence says, along with spiritual direction and daily mass, it is also a leader of the university’s intramural sports program.

The university says it doesn’t know which sports may have been affected, but is shutting down in-person varsity athletics for the next two weeks.

It says individuals who may have been exposed will be contacted by health officials.

The statement says all other residences at the University of Alberta are considered safe and at low risk of exposure.

Alberta’s last COVID-19 update on Thursday reported 1,424 active cases and 255 deaths.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Obsidian Energy formalizes share swap bid for Calgary rival Bonterra Energy

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CALGARY — Obsidian Energy Ltd. is formalizing its hostile takeover bid for rival Bonterra Energy Corp. 

It says it will offer two Obsidian shares for each Bonterra share until Jan. 4.

The share-swap offer is the same as the proposal in a declaration of intent made in late August, despite Bonterra shares continuing to trade for more double those of Obsidian.

On Friday, Bonterra stock closed at $1.22 per share, about 2.1 times the value of Obsidian stock at 57 cents.

In a news release, Obsidian says the takeover would create a “Cardium champion” by combining the two companies’ assets in the region, while providing financial strength to add to that base by buying other Cardium lands.

It says the merged company have production of 35,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, three times the size of Bonterra in the second quarter.

“Since we publicly announced our interest in a combination with Bonterra, we have received encouraging feedback from a significant number of shareholders of both companies and other interested parties that reinforces our view that the combination of Obsidian Energy and Bonterra is in the best interests of both companies and their respective stakeholders,” interim Obsidian CEO Stephen Loukas said.

Bonterra didn’t formally respond to the initial Obsidian approach, but said it would continue to pursue financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada, in co-operation with its existing syndicate of lenders, that would allow it to restart its suspended capital program and allow it to bring production back to last year’s levels.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BNE, TSX:OBE)

The Canadian Press

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september, 2020

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