The Alberta government announced students will return to the classroom as it reported a new daily record for COVID-19 cases.
Kindergarten to Grade 12 students will resume in-person learning on Monday before schools receive rapid tests and medical-grade masks by the end of the week, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said.
“Children who learn in person belong in the classroom,” LaGrange told reporters.
“We also know that in-person learning is critically important for many kids’ educational and social development and can provide a sense of stability and normalcy in these challenging times,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.
“Now that we know more about preventing transmission and we have safe, effective vaccines available to everyone aged five and older, I believe it is prudent to keep schools open and children safe by limiting community transmission.”
Alberta Health Services won’t conduct full contact tracing in schools as it focuses its efforts on high-risk settings, Hinshaw said, but other options are being assessed.
Districts will have the ability to shift certain classes or grades to short-term remote learning if they have COVID-19 cases, LaGrange said, but the government has to approve requests to shift entire schools or school authorities to at-home learning.
The Opposition NDP criticized the province’s decision to send children back to school without a firm plan on contact tracing, as well as no N95 masks or HEPA filters.
WEDNESDAY’S COVID-19 DATA
The number of Albertans with COVID-19 in hospital continued to grow on Wednesday, up to 470, an increase of 100 from a week ago, according to the province’s latest data update.
The 470 in hospital includes 72 patients in intensive care units. That patient count has also grown by 15 over the prior seven days.
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The province also reported 11 new deaths on Wednesday. The deaths were in individuals ranging in age from in their 50s to more than 80 years old and bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Alberta up to 3,333.
The number of new COVID-19 cases continues to grow at a record rate, with 4,752 new infections identified based on 12,600 tests.
Provincially imposed limitations to testing capacity means those stats continue to undercount the number of actual COVID-19 cases. Results also do not include those from take-home rapid kits.
The Omicron variant continues to be the most prominent with 727 new cases identified Wednesday, bringing the total up to 11,159.
Identifying variants requires a further screening, meaning the new Omicron cases are from several days prior and not included in Wednesday’s new case count.
More than 7.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Alberta to date with 79.4 per cent of all Albertans having had at least a first dose and 73 per cent having had a second dose.
Nearly a quarter of all Albertans, 23.4 per cent, have also had a booster dose.
Compared to those with two doses, unvaccinated Albertans remain multiple times more likely to suffer a severe outcome such as hospitalization or death.
The next data update is scheduled for Thursday.
Source: CTV News