3/15 Schools closed amid concerns of spread of COVID-19
Press release from Province of Alberta at 4:30pm on 3/15/2020
Aggressive additional public health measures are being implemented provincevwide to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans, after new cases appear to be spreading into community settings.
Latest updates Effective immediately, student attendance at schools is prohibited. Post-secondary classes are cancelled. Campuses will remain open. All licensed child care facilities, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs are closed indefinitely. All long-term care and other continuing care facilities are advised to limit visitation to essential visitors only.
Places of worship are no longer exempt from restrictions on mass gatherings. 17 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Alberta, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 56. Three of the new cases are in the Edmonton zone and 14 are in the Calgary zone.At least two cases identified in the last two days appear to have been acquired through community transmission from an unknown source, and seven cases occurred as a result of a single gathering in the Calgary zone.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health “The new cases that have emerged today, particularly those demonstrating transmission into communities and school settings, means we need to put in place additional restrictions for schools, day cares, continuing care facilities, and worship gatherings. These decisions are not made lightly, and I know they will have a tremendous impact on Albertans’ day-to-day lives, particularly parents, children, and seniors. But it is crucial we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19.”
K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions Effective immediately, students will no longer be attending classes in K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions until further notice. Post-secondary campuses will still remain open, but classes are cancelled. School authorities are expected to continue their regular day-to-day operations and ensure the safety of school facilities. Maintenance, capital projects, cleaning of facilities and administrative work will continue.Every K-12 student will receive a final mark and students will progress to their next grade level next year. Provincial assessments, such as provincial achievement tests, will be cancelled. At this time, diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will continue. Every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate. The Alberta government will also be working with post-secondary institutions to ensure that these extraordinary circumstances do not prevent students from being eligible for admission to post-secondary studies for the coming school year. Teachers and other school staff will still be expected to work, either from home or at their workplace, to ensure these expectations are met. Decisions on how to do this are still to be made, and it may vary depending on the school jurisdiction.
Child care All licensed child care, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs in Alberta are closed at this time, as well. Approved day homes are exempt because they care for fewer than seven children at a time. These programs are encouraged to use enhanced sanitation practices.
Mass gatherings Places of worship are no longer exempt from the recommended restrictions on mass gatherings. Public health officials continue to recommend that all mass gatherings of 250 people or more are cancelled, and this now includes worship gatherings. Any event that has more than 50 attendees and expects to have international participants, or involves critical infrastructure staff, seniors, or other high-risk populations, should also be cancelled. Events that do not meet these criteria can proceed at this time, but risk mitigation must be in place, such as enforcing distancing of one to two metres between attendees and using sanitizer stations. Visitation limits to continuing care and long-term care facilities. Only essential visits to any continuing care or long-term care facility in Alberta are recommended. Individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19. Families and friends of those in these facilities are asked to think of other ways besides visiting that they can support and encourage their loved ones through this difficult time.
Recommended travel advice Travel outside of the country is not being recommended at this time. Given the rapid global spread of the virus, it is no longer possible to assess health risks for the duration of the trip.Any traveller returning from outside of the country should self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are feeling well, and monitor for symptoms.Any traveller who has returned before March 12 should closely monitor themselves for symptoms. If they experience symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and call Health Link 811 for follow-up assessment and testing.
Quick facts The most important measures that Albertans can take to prevent respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, is to practise good hygiene.This includes cleaning your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, coughing or sneezing into your elbow or sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately, and staying home and away from others if you are sick.Anyone who has health concerns or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should complete an online COVID-19 self-assessment.