Premier Jason Kenney says classes will resume next week, as planned.
Schools divisions across Alberta, including Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, will welcome students back this upcoming Monday.
“The decision to resume in-class learning on (Monday) is based on carefully considering the importance of attending school in-person, as well as the latest evidence of cases dropping in all school-related age groups in December,” Kenney said during a live COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon.
“I want to recognize the effort of school staff, teachers and parents to follow health measures and help us keep classrooms safe for Alberta students. I’m confident this effort will continue and we’ll see a successful return to in-person learning to the benefit of all students.”
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said there are no risk-free options with COVID-19, but government data “indicates that the current school model in place is largely effective at limiting in-school transmission.”
Late in November, the Government of Alberta temporarily shifted middle- and high-school students to online learning to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
Students in Grades 7-12 learned remotely from Nov. 30 to when the Christmas break began on Dec. 18. All students from K-12 participated in online learning during the first week of school in 2021, which ends Friday.
Red Deer Public Schools has told The Advocate more information regarding students’ physical return to the classroom will be available Friday.
Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange said schools play a “critical role” in supporting student learning.
“In September, the vast majority of parents chose in-person learning for their children during the pandemic and schools have been diligently following the extensive health measures in place,” said LaGrange.
“A return to school will provide our students with the familiar daily routine of learning in class and will restore some sense of normalcy for both students and families amidst these unusual times.”
While students return to in-person learning, all Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers must continue to follow existing health measures until at least Jan. 21. Active evaluation of the latest public health data is underway and will be used to re-evaluate the current level of restrictions over the coming weeks.
Businesses, organizations and service providers will be given at least one week’s notice prior to changes to the current health measures that may impact them. Government will continue to consult with affected industries.