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Alberta reveals COVID-19 Back-To-School strategy

Last Updated Jul 21, 2020 at 6:29 pm MST

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Alberta government said K-12 students will return to school in September.

Premier Jason Kenney, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, and chief medical officer of health Dr Deena Hinshaw made the announcement.

This follows a recent spike in cases of COVID-19 across the province.

Kenney said the province calculated the risks and favoured re-opening schools.

“I’m proud of our comprehensive plan that supports the safe return to daily in-school learning. The return of more than 750,000 students to near-normal learning in the new school year is indicative of Alberta’s continued recovery as we work to relaunch our economy and return to our regular everyday lives.”

Kenney also appealed to Albertans to help maintain public health orders.

“If you think you can socialize with large groups of people in closed quarters, knock it off. If you’re young and healthy, remember you could still carry and transmit the virus that ends up killing someone who is old or vulnerable.”

Alberta schools will reopen under ‘Scenario 1‘ or near-normal daily operations in its Re-entry plan.

LaGrange added schools will employ public health guidance such as physical distancing, students in cohort groups, and increased cleaning.

“We are determined to do everything that we can to safely return our students, teachers and staff to school. I appreciate the input and support of school authorities across the province, as well as our education partners, in developing and refining our school re-entry plan.”

She added a ‘re-entry toolkit’ is available on Alberta’s website.

Hand sanitizers at school entrances and inside classrooms will also be available, and mask-wearing is optional.

LaGrange said lower classes in summer schools, which operate under ‘Scenario 2’ provided positive results for the reentry.

There is no risk-free approach to COVID-19 but there are also risks to children’s overall health from school closures.Said Dr Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health. We are continually refining our public health advice for schools based on [the] best available evidence. Limiting the spread of the virus in schools will require the dedication and support of all Albertans when the school year begins this fall.

Hinshaw said Alberta has plans in place to respond quickly should cases arise in school.

COVID-19 update

Alberta has 141 new cases of COVID-19, 55 recoveries, and two additional deaths linked to the virus in the last 24 hours.

Across the province, there are 1193 active cases, 172 deaths, and 8363 recovered cases.

93 Albertans are in hospital, with 16 in intensive care.

RELATED: Fort McMurray reaches significant COVID-19 milestone

Alberta reports two new cases of COVID-19 in the RMWB.

Both are in the rural service area, which also reduced its number of recovered cases by one, for three active and 40 resolved cases of COVID-19.

Fort McMurray, which has no new cases of the illness, has 56 recovered cases.

The province reported the last active case in the urban service area recovered from COVID-19 in its July 20 report.