K-12 Education and Covid-19

Staying safe and healthy this school year (government resources website - check often for updates)

Parents, students and school staff can learn what to expect in schools.

Planning, guidance, checklists, guides and updates.

 

Managing COVID-19 in Schools - Update October 5, 2021

The Premier, the Minister of Education, and the Minister of Health announced new actions to manage COVID-19 in schools. This includes:

  • Public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools
  • Initiating contact notification in schools
  • Clarifying COVID-19 outbreak definitions
  • Providing rapid testing for K-6 schools experiencing outbreaks
  • In addition, where there have been three or more COVID-19 cases in a class over a five day period in K-6 schools a shift to at-home learning for that class will be required.

The following provides you with further information on each of these actions, which will be phased in as Alberta Health Services (AHS) adds staff to assist with contact notification.

Public Reporting and Contact Notification

Beginning October 6, Alberta Health will be posting information publicly about school level COVID-19 cases in schools.

One of the more pertinent changes I would like to highlight is that the definition of a COVID-19 ‘outbreak’ is changing. A school outbreak will now be reported as 10 or more COVID-19 cases within a 14 day period that were infectious while at school. The previous use of a 10% absenteeism rate will no longer be used for COVID-19 cases but will remain in place for other respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses.

During the week of October 12th, contact notification within schools will begin. AHS will be sharing case specific information with schools. School authorities and schools, using guidance being developed, will determine in school close contacts and will be required to notify parents/guardians of the identified contacts. Notification letters will be provided as part of the guidance to support you. Alberta Health Services will take over the lead on contract notification in schools within the next several weeks and once they hire staff to support this process. I appreciate your support to ensure the successful transition to contact notification.

Also beginning the week of October 12th, if three or more COVID-19 cases are identified within a five day period in a Kindergarten to Grade 6 class, AHS will issue an exclusion notification, shifting students to at-home learning. Exclusion letters will be issued on a class-by-class basis and any classes in receipt of an exclusion letter will be required to shift to at-home learning for 10 days. Because AHS does not collect class information, they will be relying on school authorities to notify them of classes that meet the exclusion criteria.

Rapid Testing

Starting in late-October, rapid testing kits will be provided to school authorities for distribution for Kindergarten to Grade 6 schools, starting first with schools that are experiencing an outbreak status.

The rapid testing program will be voluntary. If they choose, children, students, and staff will be provided with rapid testing kits to test twice per week for four weeks. These tests are for those individuals that are asymptomatic and are to be done at home. Symptomatic children need to be tested at an AHS assessment centre and should not use the rapid tests. Rapid tests are a more effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in areas where there are more COVID-19 cases.

The program will begin pending test kit availability and will continue until Health Canada completes its review of the submission for approval to use COVID-19 vaccine for children under 12. More information will be shared once details of the program are finalized.

Finally, the Ministers of Education and Health have sent school boards a letter strongly encouraging all school authorities, as employers, and operators of school facilities, to develop policies that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for teachers, staff and any adult who enters a school .

Andre Tremblay, Deputy Minister of Education

New vaccine requirements and COVID-19 measures in Alberta

From the Education Minister:  2021-2022 School Year COVID-19 Update

Alberta’s government has continued to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta.  Based on advice from the chief medical officer of health we are making adjustments, including new public health measures related to schools:

  • Mandatory masking in schools for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades
  • Class cohorting in K-6 classrooms.
  • Requirements related to indoor activities including performance, physical activities, recreation and special interest groups in schools.

Vaccination remains an effective means of protecting Albertans from COVID 19, and it is an important part of ensuring our schools can safely return to normal. This is why Alberta’s government continues to encourage all eligible teachers, staff, students, parents, and guardians to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

To further increase accessibility to COVID-19 vaccines, and as previously announced, immunizations will be available in schools in September and October for eligible students in grades 7-12. Staff in those schools will also be able to access vaccinations, if desired. 

School authorities continue to have the ability and corresponding accountability for any local measures that are put in place, which may exceed provincial guidance. If school authorities, make the decision to go beyond the provincial measures and guidance, part of the accountability to communities is to explain why this is necessary in local contexts. 

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

 

2021-2022 School Year Update

Public Health Measures

Masking

Masking will be mandatory for students in grades 4-12 and staff and teachers in all grades.  If a school is able to implement an alternate COVID-19 safety plan and keep all individuals physically distanced by two metres at all times while in an indoor location, they may be exempted from this requirement by the chief medical officer of health.

Please note that those school authorities who have already received a school bus masking exemption for the current school year will not need to re-apply for an exemption.

Cohorting

All elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 6) will implement class cohorting.

Physical activity in schools:

Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain two-metre physical distancing during a physical activity such as physical education. There are no restrictions on outdoor activities and indoor sports/performance/recreation/special interests are permitted with requirements for two-metre physical distancing, where possible.

Children’s sport/performance/recreation (extracurricular sports, performance, recreation, and special interest):

Indoor activities are permitted, with requirements for two-metre physical distancing and masking where possible, and symptom screening for participants. Youth aged 18 and under are not required to mask or maintain physical distancing during a physical activity, such as a team sport. There are no restrictions on outdoor activities.

Spectator attendance

Spectator attendance is limited to one-third fire code capacity at all indoor physical activities. Attendees must be masked and ensure physical distancing between different households or an individual who lives alone and their two close contacts.

Further guidance with additional details will be provided by Alberta Health. Continue to seek the latest information at https://www.alberta.ca/covid-19-public-health-actions.aspx.

Andre Tremblay, Deputy Minister of Education