After consulting with education and health authorities, government officials say the province balanced the risk of reopening schools against the socio-economic impact of keeping them closed. Premiere Jason Kenney says schools can be operated safely with low risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. He adds that research has shown younger children have a lower risk of contracting and transmitting the virus. Alberta’s COVID numbers show that only 14% of all reported infections have been amongst youth.
According to Kenney, some of the negative impacts of school closures have been that some children have been stuck in impoverished situations with little or no contact with others. Additionally, some parents have been forced to stay home, affecting their income and work situations.
Kenney says 86% of parents polled were in favour of reopening schools.
The province will be implementing safety measures in all schools this fall including:
- Grouping students in cohorts to minimize infection spread
- Having students and staff do a daily self health assessment
- Encouraging everyone to stay home when sick
- Frequently cleaning surfaces
- Fewer classes may be offered in order to accommodate physical distancing
- Staggered start times may occur to reduce the number of students gathering together
- Schools will continue to emphasize health measures like hand washing to help prevent the spread
School re-entry kits will be made available (through a series of videos) at www.alberta.ca/returntoschool