Overview

Guidance, resources and public health measures are in place to keep students learning safely in-person this school year.

  • Up to $45 million for targeted programming for younger students affected by learning disruptions.
  • Diploma exam weighting will change to 10% from 30% for 2021-22.
  • At-home rapid test kits provided to K-6 schools on outbreak status.
  • Public reporting of alerts and outbreaks, and contact notification in schools.
  • School authorities are encouraged to implement proof of vaccination policies for adults.

School authorities continue to have the ability and the corresponding accountability to put in place local measures that exceed provincial guidance.

Planning and guidance

Find more resources to help stay safe and healthy this school year.

Attending school safely

  • Public reporting, outbreak definition and contact notification in schools (NEW)

    • Public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools resumed on October 6, with Alberta Health identifying online each school with at least 2 COVID-19 cases.
    • Also effective October 6, school COVID-19 outbreaks are reported at 10 or more COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period that were infectious while at school.
    • Public reporting categories include:
      • Alert: 2 to 4 cases
      • Alert: 5 to 9 cases
      • Outbreak: 10+ cases
    • Parents are also being informed if their child may have been exposed to a COVID-19 case who was infectious while at school.
    • An interim reporting process listing schools on outbreak status based on recent cases is available for schools while the map view of school status is under development.
    • During this transitional period, the school cases list only includes outbreaks in schools that have had 10 or more cases who were infectious in school in the past 14 days.

    Last updated: October 27, 2021

  • At-home rapid testing program (NEW)

    • We are delivering at-home rapid test kits to schools on outbreak status with Kindergarten to Grade 6 students across the province. This program is optional and free.
    • Schools can submit a K to 6 at-home rapid testing program request form.
    • Schools will provide 10 tests to take home for students and staff who wish to participate with. They will be required to test twice a week for 5 weeks. Testing regularly ensures rapid testing is most effective.
    • A how-to video for parents and a rapid test program fact sheet translated into multiple languages offer tips on how to use the kits.
    • If a student or staff member has symptoms of COVID-19, they must not use a rapid test. They should stay home and book a test online with the Alberta Health Services (AHS) assessment tool or by calling 811.
    • Schools on outbreak status must submit a request to Alberta Health to receive tests for this program.
    • If a student or staff member has a positive rapid test result, they must isolate for 10 days or until they have a negative test through AHS.

    Last updated: October 27, 2021

  • Daily health checklist

    Children

    Children under 18, including all students who attend kindergarten through Grade 12 and high school students over 18, should complete the Alberta Health Daily Checklist for Children under 18 before going to school, child care or other activities.

    The checklist is also available in the following additional languages: Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese.

    Adults

    School staff and visitors should review the Alberta Health Daily Checklist to determine if they may enter a school.

    Some school authorities may also require adults to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative lab-conducted (PCR) test or rapid testing result at their own cost before they can enter a school.

  • Health measures

    • If a student or staff member has any of the following core COVID-19 symptoms (new, or worsening and not related to other known causes), they are required to isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result, as per provincial guidelines:
      • Fever
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Loss of sense of smell or taste
      • Sore throat (adults only)
      • Runny nose (adults only)
    • Schools are encouraged to:
      • promote frequent hand hygiene and good respiratory etiquette
      • continue environmental measures such as cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces
      • have a plan for students and staff who develop symptoms to wait in a separate area until they can go home
    • Masks are mandatory for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades. Masks are recommended for students attending kindergarten to Grade 3.
    • Elementary schools are to implement class cohorting.
    • We will continue monitoring and take whatever actions are needed to manage any outbreaks in schools.
    • Zone Medical Officers of Health and their designates are available to support school authorities throughout the province.
  • Masks

    • Masking is mandatory for students in grades 4 and up, plus staff and teachers in all grades.
      • Masks are recommended for students attending kindergarten to Grade 3.
    • Masks are required on school buses.
    • Schools may choose to have additional masking requirements.
    • Schools should support individuals who choose to wear masks, beyond the current public health measures.
  • Outbreaks

    • School COVID-19 outbreaks are now reported at 10 or more COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period that were infectious while at school.
    • Alberta Health Services will continue to support schools to manage COVID-19 outbreaks.
    • A medical officer of health or designate has the authority under the Public Health Act to recommend additional public health measures.

    Last updated: October 14, 2021

  • Shifts to at-home learning

    • For kindergarten to Grade 6 only, if 3 or more COVID-19 cases who attended school while infectious are identified in one class within a 5-day period, the class will shift to at-home learning for 10 days.
    • Parents will be notified by the school when the class will shift to at-home learning.
    • Staff members who are fully vaccinated will be able to continue to attend a school building, while those who are not fully vaccinated will be excluded from the school for 10 days.
    • If a K-6 class shifts to at-home learning, vaccinated children will typically also make this shift for operational reasons.
    • School authorities continue to have the discretion to shift a grade or grades to at-home/online learning.
    • Approval from the Minister of Education is required for a short-term shift of one or more schools or an entire school authority to at-home/online learning for operational reasons.
    • A decision for a school authority request will be based on the ability of a school to have staff available to operate in-school classes.

    Last updated: October 15, 2021

  • Protecting students under 12

    • Because children 5 to 11 only recently became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and children younger than 5 are not eligible, it is important that people around them are immunized to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
    • For kindergarten to Grade 6 only, if 3 or more COVID-19 cases who attended school while infectious are identified in one class within a 5-day period, parents will be notified that all students in that class, whether vaccinated or not, are excluded from in-person learning at school for 10 days. The class will shift to at-home learning. Staff members who are fully vaccinated will be able to continue to attend a school building.
    • Children under 12 have much lower rates of hospitalization, severe disease and death from COVID-19. Based on Alberta’s experience in the 2020-2021 school year, schools were not the primary drivers of COVID-19 transmission during that time.
    • Students, parents/guardians, staff and visitors are encouraged to assess their personal risk factors and/or the risk factors for their families and take precautions that make sense in their situations.

    Last updated: November 23, 2021

  • School activities

    • Indoor sports, fitness, recreation, and performance activities are permitted in schools, with requirements to maintain 2 metre physical distancing where possible.
      • Masks and distancing are not required by youth under 18 while engaged in physical activity.
      • Spectator attendance restricted to 1/3 fire code capacity and limited to households or 2 close contacts for those living alone. Attendees must be masked and distanced.
  • Staying home when sick

    • Before leaving home, staff, students and visitors should assess whether they feel well enough to attend school for any reason.
    • Parents/guardians should assess their children daily for any new signs or symptoms of illness using the Alberta Daily Health Checklist.
    • If a student or staff member has any of the following core COVID-19 symptoms (new, or worsening and not related to other known causes), they are required to isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result, as per provincial guidelines:
      • Fever
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Loss of sense of smell or taste
      • Sore throat (adults only)
      • Runny nose (adults only)
    • Schools are encouraged to have a plan in place if a student or staff member develops any symptoms of illness while at school.
  • Vaccinations

    Vaccine eligibility

    • All staff and students ages 5+ are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
    • COVID-19 vaccines help prevent infection and severe illness. All vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.

    Proof of vaccination

    • We strongly encourage all school authorities to develop policies that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for teachers, staff and any other adult who enters a school.
    • This does not include students. A school authority cannot deny students access to education due to immunization status.

    Last updated: November 23, 2021

Resources

Provincial assessment

Diploma exams (NEW)

  • Diploma exam weighting will temporarily change to 10% from 30% for the 2021-22 school year in response to feedback from students, parents and education partners about stress and anxiety around academic achievement.
  • Grade 12 diploma exams are mandatory in the 2021/22 school year.
  • Diploma exams will be offered for every diploma exam course in November, January, April, June and August administrations.
  • The Ministers of Advanced Education and Education have sent an open letter to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to advise them of this change and encourage them to further consider the impact the pandemic has had on students who are applying to their post secondary institutions.

Learn more about writing diploma exams this year.

Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs)

  • Grade 6 and 9 provincial achievement tests will resume and participation is mandatory for all schools not piloting the new draft Kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum

Fall 2021 funding for COVID-19 learning disruptions (NEW)

In May 2021, we announced that $45 million would be available for school authorities to offer targeted programming enhancing literacy and numeracy skills. School authorities have completed learning assessments to identify students that could benefit from targeted programming and now funds will be distributed at a per student rate of $490.

School authorities have the flexibility to use this funding to design literacy and numeracy programming interventions to best meet the needs of their students. Programming will be above and beyond classroom learning.

Approximately $30 million will be invested in fall 2021 for students in Grades 2 and 3. Lists of approved funding for public and private school authorities are available. Up to $15 million will be allocated to students in Grade 1 in February 2022 in response to feedback received from school authorities.

Focused programming sessions are intended to be provided for up to 16 weeks. School authorities have the flexibility to design the length and frequency of the programming sessions.

Funds will be distributed on a per student basis with a minimum funding amount based on the number of eligible students per school.

In addition to this new funding, the Child and Youth Well-Being Review will explore ways to best support the well-being of children and youth impacted by COVID-19.

Supporting mental health

  • Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about how they are feeling, and let them know they are there for them.
  • If a child needs someone to talk to, they can text CONNECT to the Kids’ Help Phone at 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868. This 24/7, free service offers professional counselling, information and referrals. The Jack.org Alberta COVID-19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub also has great information for teens on mental health, self-care and supporting others.
  • If a parent, school staff member or other adult needs someone to talk to, they are encouraged to call the confidential, toll-free, 24/7 mental health helpline at 1-877-303-2642. This helpline is attended by a team that includes nurses, psychologists and social workers.
  • The Alberta Health Services website Help in Tough Times also has helpful information, including the Text4Hope resource, which you can subscribe to for free by texting COVID19HOPE to 393939. It offers 3 months of supportive text messages written by mental health therapists.
  • School authorities can use the Mental Health and Well-Being Continuum of Supports and Services document to enhance mental health supports for students.
     

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