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Province issues back-to-school COVID guidelines

Masking won’t be required in schools. Masks will be required on school buses.
Adriana LaGrange
Education Minister Adriana Lagrange, left, poses with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in this undated handout photo from the province. Lagrange and Dr. Deena Hinshaw released a back-to-school tool kit on Friday. ALBERTA GOVERNMENT/Photo

Vaccines will be offered in schools across Alberta in the upcoming school year and masks will not be mandatory, says the provincial government.

On Friday morning, Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Education Minister Adriana Lagrange released back-to-school guidelines for the province's students and teachers.

“The guidance we are releasing today considers the risks of COVID-19 as well as the risks of public-health measures on children’s overall health and well-being,” Hinshaw said.

“It is important that we look at all factors that support physical, mental, and emotional health to make sure that precautions are proportionate to overall risk level. It is in this broader context that our provincial guidance has been crafted.”

The province released a back-to-school tool kit for parents and staff along with a document to help prevent and manage respiratory illness in schools.

The province said students and staff must continue the daily screening tests for COVID-19 symptoms and they must isolate for 10 days if they test positive for COVID-19 or have any of the main symptoms of the virus, including a cough, fever, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, and a loss of sense of smell or taste.

Isolation is required for 10 days from the onset of the symptoms, or until a negative COVID-19 test result is received.

Masking won’t be required in schools, but it may be recommended as an intervention for respiratory outbreaks in general, Hinshaw said. Masks will be required on school buses. 

The province is recommending all those who are eligible to get vaccinated before the school year begins.

Hinshaw said the measures that were necessary last year to battle COVID-19 have been associated with the deterioration in the mental health of children and youth.

“Many children have reported increased feelings of social isolation, depression, and anxiety. It is important to keep the negative impact of these measures in mind, particularly when looking at a population that is at lower risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.

“We have worked closely with Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services to develop guidance to prevent and manage all respiratory illnesses in schools.”

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette and has been with Great West Media since 2015
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