Overview

To keep students learning safely in-person, we are resuming public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools, initiating contact notification in schools, clarifying COVID-19 outbreaks, providing rapid test kits and encouraging school authorities to have proof of COVID-19 vaccination policies for adults.

New information on COVID-19 reporting, testing and contact notification has been added to the "Attending school safely" section of this page. See the list of schools with 2 or more positive COVID-19 cases.

School authorities continue to have the ability and the corresponding accountability to put in place local measures that may 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.
    • Alberta Health Services will take over the lead on contact notification in schools within the next several weeks. Once AHS-led contact notification is in place, parents will be able to check an online map to view alerts and outbreaks at schools.

    Last updated: October 14, 2021

  • At-home rapid testing program (NEW)
    • Starting in late October, K-6 schools in Alberta that are experiencing outbreaks will have access to at-home rapid test kits for students and staff.
    • This program is voluntary. More information will be shared when available.

    Last updated: October 5, 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.

  • 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 (NEW)
    • 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 (NEW)
    • 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 years of age (NEW)
    • Because children under 12 are not yet able to get the COVID-19 vaccine, it is important that people around them get the vaccine to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 in the community and protect this age group.
    • 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: October 14, 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 (NEW)

    Vaccine eligibility

    • All staff and students born in 2009 or earlier (turning 12+) 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.

    In-school vaccination clinics

    • Immunizations are available through temporary clinics in schools for students in Grades 7 to 12 as well as teachers and staff. Parents can also access clinics if sufficient supply exists. This began on September 7.
    • Students, teachers and staff can receive whichever dose they are eligible for in school at this time. However, if they receive their first dose at the in-school clinic, they will need to book their second dose at a local pharmacy or Alberta Health Services (AHS) clinic when it is time to do so.
    • Students under 18 will not be vaccinated in schools without parent or guardian consent.
      • Parental or guardian consent for students will be required through consent forms. These will be emailed to parents and guardians in late August and are available to download here: COVID-19 School Immunization Consent Form.
      • It is important that parents or guardians return completed consent forms for their children as quickly as possible.

    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 anyone who enters a school.
    • This does not include students. A school authority cannot deny students access to education due to immunization status.

    Last updated: October 5, 2021

Resources

Provincial assessment

Diploma exams

  • Grade 12 diploma exams will be 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.

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

We will provide up to $45 million to help school authorities offer targeted small group sessions in literacy and numeracy for Grades 1 to 3 students who are assessed as needing additional support.

Literacy and numeracy are 2 key areas where younger children appear to be experiencing greater challenges due to COVID-19-related learning disruptions.

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.

Taking care of your 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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