Provincial Communication

Information below includes COVID-19 updates from the Province of Alberta, Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services. 

May 4 UPDATE:

All Kindergarten to Grade 12 students, and all Early Education Programs, will temporarily shift to at-home learning (Scenario 3), starting on May 7. Students will return to in-class learning on May 25. 
Click here for more information: SCENARIO 3.

April 29 UPDATE:

Targeted restrictions will apply to municipalities or regions where there are at least 350 cases per 100,000 people and 250 currently active cases.
New measures will apply to junior and senior high schools, and sports and fitness activities in these communities.
These targeted restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks for any community or area that reaches this trigger. After 14 days, the enhanced measures will be lifted once the municipality falls back below the threshold.
Click the following link to access the Government of Alberta media release: RESTRICTIONS

April 10 UPDATE:

The in-school rapid screening test program will expand to up to 300 schools in Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie.
Testing will begin as soon as possible over the coming weeks as rapid testing teams are set up. 440,000 rapid test kits will be distributed to schools, and testing will be offered to up to 220,000 students and staff across Alberta. Teams may also be deployed at a school outside of the four communities when Alberta Health identifies a need at a specific school.
Junior and senior high schools in these communities will be prioritized based on a variety of factors, including the prevalence of COVID-19 in the school and community.
“We are stepping-up our fight against COVID-19 by expanding the rapid testing program in Alberta schools to ensure students, teachers and staff remain safe. Rapid testing in schools offers another layer of protection to our schools," said Jason Kenney, Premier.
“I am pleased to significantly expand on our successful rapid testing pilot in schools to more students and staff in more communities. Rapid test screening is one more tool to limit the spread of the virus in schools and ensure students can keep learning safely from the classroom," said Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education.
“Expanding rapid testing to schools is just the latest example of the leading role we’ve taken in testing throughout the pandemic. It’s another tool to help keep schools opening safely, as part of our commitment to keep Albertans safe while we maintain activities that are important to families and communities," said Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health.
The Calgary Catholic School District is very pleased to see Alberta Education support the expansion of the COVID-19 testing program within our Grades 7-12 student and staff population. Having the ability to quickly identify those staff and students who are asymptomatic, yet who may have COVID-19 or one of the variants allows them to isolate sooner, helping to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus," said Mary Martin, board chair, Calgary Catholic School District.
“This is great news. To date, rapid testing at CBE schools has been well-received by parents, students and staff. We look forward to the expansion to additional schools and grades, to support us in maintaining ongoing in-person learning," said  Marilyn Dennis, Board chair, Calgary Board of Education.
“Grande Prairie Public School Division is very appreciative of the efforts of the ministry to be proactive in their approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and is fully supportive of the expansion of the rapid testing initiative into our schools," said John Lehners, board chair, Grande Prairie Public School Division.
Provincial officials will work with school authorities to determine which schools will participate. Testing teams will set up at selected schools to screen students and staff who don’t have symptoms and have signed consent forms.
Rapid screening tests may potentially detect the virus quickly in people who don’t have symptoms, allowing them to immediately isolate and limit the spread of COVID-19.
Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses, and protect Alberta’s health care system.

Quick facts

  • Eight school boards are participating in the expanded rapid testing program: Edmonton Catholic School District, Edmonton Public Schools, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary Catholic Schools, Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools, Grande Prairie Public School Division, Holy Spirit Catholic School Division and Lethbridge School Division.
  • The number of schools where testing is offered may vary each week depending on the size of the school and the time needed to administer the tests.
  • Up to 440,000 test kits are available for the program expansion.
  • Students and staff who do not have symptoms, and have not been identified as close contacts, can get tested while attending school. Testing is optional.
  • Results are available at the school usually within an hour.
  • Students and staff who get a positive result after a rapid test will not be able to return to class and will isolate.
  • Positive results from rapid tests are considered preliminary and must be confirmed with a lab-based test at an Alberta Health Services assessment centre.

March 11 UPDATE:

Starting in mid-March, rapid COVID-19 tests will be offered at two Calgary schools to help assess rapid on-site testing in schools.
More than 100,000 kits will be made available for this pilot program. Rapid tests will be offered every week for up to three weeks to screen students with no symptoms.
One school from both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District will participate. The specific locations have not yet been selected.
Results from the first three weeks of the pilot will inform how the pilot program can be successfully expanded to include more schools and regions in the weeks ahead.
A testing team will set up at each participating school. Staff must sign a consent form and students must have a consent form signed by their parents or guardians to get tested.
This pilot program will help to determine the effectiveness of using rapid screening tests to manage outbreaks in schools. It will also evaluate the benefits of using rapid tests to reduce the risk of transmission in schools experiencing outbreaks by quickly identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms.

Feb. 9 UPDATE:

The Critical Worker Benefit will provide a one-time payment of $1,200 to eligible Albertans in recognition of their hard work to provide Albertans with the care and critical services they need.

The benefit will be distributed to more than 380,000 workers in the health-care, social services, education and private sectors.

Through the Critical Worker Benefit, the Government of Alberta will distribute up to $465 million in funding to eligible workers. This includes up to $118 million in provincial funds, in addition to $347 million from the federal government’s benefit program for low-wage critical workers.

Eligible workers in the health care, social services, education and private sectors will receive a $1,200 benefit distributed through their employers.

Applications from private sector employers will be accepted starting on Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Private sector employers have until Friday, March 19, 2021 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their eligible employees.

To be eligible for the benefit, education workers must:

  • have worked a minimum 300 paid hours for a provincial school authority or a contractor with a provincial school authority, between October 12, 2020 and January 31, 2021

Hours are for paid work and may include some virtual or online work where the work was performed with students.

The minimum number of paid hours (300) will be prorated for periods of time when schools were required to be closed.

As each school district had different dates when schools were closed, minimum hour prorations will be calculated on a case-by-case basis for individual school authorities.

ELIGIBLE OCCUPATIONS

The following education occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

  • educational or teacher assistants
  • bus drivers
  • custodians and janitors
  • school secretarial staff-related positions

Feb. 6 UPDATE:

Mandatory restrictions - Provincewide - Effective Feb. 8

All participants must be 18 years old or younger, except coaches or trainers.

GROUP PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES

Children and youth will be allowed to participate in limited group activities.

  • Lessons, practices and physical conditioning activities are allowed for indoor and outdoor minor sports/activities and school athletics (for example, school sport activities that are outside of a physical education class or related part of the school curriculum).
  • Games are not allowed.
  • Maximum of 10 total individuals, including all coaches, trainers, and participants.
  • Physical distancing must be maintained between participants at all times:
    • 3-metres physical distance for indoor activities
    • 2-metres physical distance for outdoor activities
    • coaches or trainers may enter physical distancing space for brief interactions with participants (for example, to correct form or technique)
  • Participants must be masked at all times, except during the training activity. Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
  • Access to change rooms must be limited, including accelerated arrival and departure, emergencies (for example, first aid) and washroom use.

PERFORMANCE ACTIVITIES

Children’s performance activities are permitted if related to school activities, such as music class.

OFF-SITE FACILITIES

K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are allowed to use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.

Jan. 30 UPDATE:

The Government of Alberta has developed steps and benchmarks to easing restrictions for businesses and individuals while protecting the health-care system. 
Each step has an associated benchmark of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including intensive care patients. Changes to restrictions will be considered once a benchmark is reached.
The hospitalization benchmarks are:

  • Step 1 – 600 and declining
  • Step 2 – 450 and declining
  • Step 3 – 300 and declining
  • Step 4 – 150 and declining

With hospitalizations dipping below 600, Alberta will move to Step 1 on Feb. 8.

For schools, the following changes will come into place on Feb. 8:

  • Children’s sport and performance activities are permitted if related to school activities, such as physical education classes.
  • K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are allowed to use off-site facilities to support curriculum-related educational activities.

Group or team sports not permitted

  • No sports games, competitions, team practice, league play or group exercise of any kind is allowed.

More information on the changes can be found here: HEALTH MEASURES

Jan. 7 UPDATE:

The decision to return to in-class learning is based on the latest evidence which shows that before the winter break, new case rates in schools plateaued and then dropped in December, once restrictions on social gatherings and group activities were in place.

“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.”
Jason Kenney, Premier

“Schools play a critical role in supporting student learning as well as their emotional health and overall well-being. 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. 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.”
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

Dec. 18 UPDATE:

Alberta Education has updated the website, Learning During COVID-19, to ensure content is relevant and easy for parents and school staff to find.

The alberta.ca/returntoschool URL has been maintained. It now takes users to a main page with a link for parents and students – and another for school staff. All of the information users are accustomed to accessing (such as videos and guidance documents) can still be found here. The main page also contains links to child care and post-secondary information.

French content will be translated soon. Fr now, Francophone audiences can continue to access up-to-date information on here.

In addition, the Government of Alberta has compiled translated COVID-19 resources. Information includes a range of tools in 12 languages – including Somali, Spanish, Arabic, Punjabi and more.

Dec. 8 UPDATE:

Today, the Alberta government released a series of new restrictions to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.

These changes do not include additional measures for schools. The adjustments made on November 30 to move Grades 7 to 12 students to at-home learning until January 11, 2021, and to move ECS to Grade 6 students to at-home learning following the winter break until January 11, will continue.

As Dr. Hinshaw and I have said, these measures were based on:

  • in-school transmission occurring at relatively low levels;
  • moving older students to at-home and away from the school for a longer period will help limit the spread of COVID-19, as they are at a higher risk of transmitting the virus compared to younger children;
  • at-home learning will help deal with operational and staffing challenges;
  • a shorter time at-home for younger students balances reducing possible transmission events following the winter break with the challenges that come with younger children learning at-home – from an academic, social, emotional and family perspective.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will make further adjustments as necessary. Thank you again for all your efforts to adhere to health measures to keep students and staff safe.  

Sincerely,

Adriana LaGrange
Minister of Education

Nov. 24 UPDATE:

Alberta’s government introduced today a series of new COVID-19 measures that impacts various sectors in our communities. As part of these new measures, all Grades 7 to 12 students province-wide will move to at-home learning (Scenario 3 of the 2020-2021 School Re-Entry Plan) effective November 30. ECS to Grade 6 students will continue learning at school in-person under Scenario 1 until the winter break – as per school authority calendars.

After the winter break, all ECS to Grade 12 students across Alberta will be learning at-home for about a week depending on school authority calendars, and will return to Scenario 1 at school in-person learning on January 11, 2021. These shifts in learning surrounding the winter break are mandatory for all school authorities. School authorities who have a previously scheduled winter break during the week of January 4 – 8 will have their break continue, and their students will return to learning on January 11.

All diploma exams for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year will be optional. The decision to write diploma exams resides with students and their families. Students will receive an exemption if they choose not to write an exam, however if an exam is written it will continue to be worth 30% of their final mark.

These decisions were made after careful consideration and are based on the advice of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. While in-school transmission appears to be occurring at relatively low levels over the past three months, the temporary shift to at-home learning for junior high and high school students will help limit the spread of COVID-19 as wells as alleviate operational and learning challenges. Requiring all students to stay home from school following the break is also intended to help reduce the impact of any exposures over the holidays.

I know we asked school authorities to prepare for possible shifts among scenarios during this school year. I’d like to thank you for staying flexible throughout this time. I’m confident the school system is ready to adjust to the changes that arise in this COVID-19 environment.

We truly appreciate all your efforts to follow the health measures and to keep students and staff safe. I’d like to thank everyone in the school system for their dedication to continue student learning both in-class and at-home during this unprecedented school year.

Sincerely,

Adriana LaGrange

Minister of Education

Nov. 12 UPDATE:

New public health measures are in place in communities across Alberta to protect the health system and limit the spread of COVID-19. Learn more here: MEASURES

October 29 UPDATE:

Updates to the DAILY CHECKLIST for students will take effect on Monday, Nov. 2.
The new Alberta Health daily checklist for children under 18 has been released and will apply to Albertans under 18. This also applies to individuals who are 18 and over and are attending high school.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has also written a letter to parents to explain changes to the daily symptoms checklist. The letter can be found here: HINSHAW
All other Albertans who are 18 and over, including school staff, will continue to use the Alberta Health daily checklist that was previously posted online.
Both checklists are available here: COVID-19 INFORMATION.
Symptoms of runny nose and sore throat have been removed from the mandatory isolation checklist for Albertans under 18.
The core isolation symptoms for children are now one (or more) of the following: cough, fever, loss of taste or smell and shortness of breath. If a child has any of these core symptoms:
They are to isolate for 10 days OR have a negative COVID-19 test result and feel better before they return to school or other activities.
If a child has ONE of the following symptoms: chills; sore throat or painful swallowing; runny nose or congestion; feeling unwell or fatigue; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; unexplained loss of appetite; muscle or joint aches; headache; or conjunctivitis (pink eye):
The child should stay home and monitor for 24 hours.
If their symptom is improving after 24 hours, they can return to school/activities when they feel well enough to attend. Testing is not recommended.
If the symptom worsens after 24 hours, or if additional symptoms emerge, or if the child has any two symptoms from this second list, they are to continue to stay home, and testing is recommended but not required. The child can return to activities and school when their symptoms have resolved AND it has been 24 hours or more since their symptoms started.
The amount of time a student needs to stay home from school depends on the type of symptoms. For more information, please click on this document, which outlines isolation requirements: ISOLATION

October 13 UPDATE:

Gene Williams, Assistant Deputy Minister at Alberta Education, provided this update today in terms of diploma exam administration for the November writing session:
When the school re-entry plan was released, the department announced that diploma exams will continue to be administered as long as Scenario 1 or Scenario 2 are in place, but may be cancelled if a shift to Scenario 3 becomes necessary. We are dealing with a complex and unpredictable set of circumstances, and we must remain ready to adapt to changes and follow the guidelines set out by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. That said, we are always exploring options to make the return to in-person learning as smooth as possible and we will make adjustments to the school re-entry plan as required.
As such, Alberta’s government is providing students and parents with the option of choosing if they write their diploma exams for the November 2020 administration. At this time, diploma exam administrations for the balance of the 2020/21 school year are expected to proceed as usual. Alberta’s government will continue to monitor the situation and potential adjustments to future diploma exam administrations will be considered one administration at a time.
Below are some important operational details to share with your school leaders:
- The decision to write November 2020 diploma exams resides with students and their parents. 
- Schools will work with students to determine who will write the exams in November 2020.
- The department will provide diploma exams to schools through a supplemental shipment process. To ensure adequate diploma exams are provided to schools in time for students to write them, schools are required to provide the approximate numbers of diploma exams to the department by October 20, 2020.
- Students who will receive a school-awarded mark for Quarter 1 (September to November courses) and do not write diploma exams will automatically receive exemptions.
To ensure students who want to write diploma exams can access them, all schools that have students registered to write November 2020 diploma exams should be ready to administer them. However, to streamline diploma exam administration, school authorities may choose to consolidate exam writings at a central location.
Click here for a Q and A document: DIPLOMA EXAMS.

October 8 UPDATE:

The Guidance for School Re-Entry - Scenario 1 includes a number of key updates, including cohorts, in-person learning and auxiliary spaces: GUIDELINES

The Implementation Guide - Scenario 1, relflects changes in the School Re-Entry guide and provides greater detail for implementation purposes: IMPLEMENATION