What's new: Easing public health measures in schools

Alberta is continuing a careful and prudent plan to phase out public health measures, including those in schools.

  • Public health measures are being eased in 3 steps. Step 2 began on March 1, 2022. For schools, this includes these changes:
    • The provincial masking mandate is removed. Staff and students can continue to wear masks if they choose to. Schools should support students and staff who choose to wear masks.
    • Remaining provincial school requirements (including cohorting) are removed.
    • Screening prior to youth activities is no longer required.
  • The school shift process for provincial school authorities remains.
    • School authorities have the discretion to shift a grade or class to at-home learning should it be operationally required.
    • Shifts for schools or entire school authorities for operational reasons require minister approval.
  • Mandatory isolation requirements have not changed. These requirements will be removed in Step 3 of the phased approach and will become a recommendation at that time.

News: Alberta to lift almost all remaining health restrictions (February 26, 2022)

Planning and guidance

Attending school safely

  • At-home rapid testing program

    Last updated: February 28, 2022

  • Daily health checklist

    Children

    It is recommended that children under 18, including all students who attend kindergarten through Grade 12 and high school students over 18, 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. Please note that these translations are currently out of date.

    Adults

    It is recommended that school staff and visitors review the Alberta Health Daily Checklist to determine if they may enter a school.

  • Health measures

    Isolation requirements

    The mandatory isolation period for people with core symptoms that are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition is:

    • Fully vaccinated: 5 calendar days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer, plus 5 calendar days of wearing a mask at all times when around others outside of home.
    • Not fully vaccinated: 10 calendar days or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
    • If a person tests negative, they should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.

    Core symptoms

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Loss of sense of smell or taste
    • Sore throat (adults only)
    • Runny nose (adults only)

    Prevention measures

    • 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
    • Zone Medical Officers of Health and their designates are available to support school authorities throughout the province.

    Last updated: February 28, 2022

  • Masks

    • As of March 1, 2022, the provincial masking mandate is removed as part of Step 2 of the province’s 3-step approach.
    • Staff and students can continue to wear masks if they choose to. Schools should support students and staff who choose to wear masks.

     

    Last updated: February 28, 2022

  • Shifts to at-home learning

    • School authorities continue to have the discretion to shift a class or individual grade to short-term at-home/online learning if needed to address operational challenges at a school.
    • 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 student absentee rates, the ability of a school or school authority to have staff available to operate in-school classes, and other relevant information including local health data, if available.

    Last updated: January 5, 2022

  • 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.
    • 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: December 30, 2021

  • 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

    • Vaccines remain the most effective way to ensure less severe COVID-19 outcomes.
    • Vaccine requirements for employees remain within the purview of the employer. Employers should follow applicable employment and health and safety legislation. Should a school jurisdiction wish to retain or remove these requirements they should suggest they seek legal advice.
    • School authorities cannot require parents, volunteers, spectators or other non-school employees to show proof of vaccination.
    • Parents, volunteers, spectators and other non-school employees are required to follow all provincial health orders and guidelines that are applicable in schools.
    • A school authority cannot deny students access to education due to immunization status.

    Last updated: February 11, 2022

Resources

Provincial assessment

Diploma exams

  • Diploma exams are expected to be administered for the rest of the school year (April, June and August 2022). The situation will continue to be monitored and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health will inform final decisions.
  • Diploma exam weighting is temporarily changed 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.
  • The Ministers of Advanced Education and Education have sent an open letter (PDF, 192 KB) to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to 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)

  • Schools piloting the draft Kindergarten to Grade 6 curriculum are not required to administer the Grade 6 PATs for the subject(s) they are piloting. It is mandatory for schools to administer all Grade 6 PATs for the subject(s) they are not piloting and it is mandatory for schools to administer all Grade 9 PAT subjects.

Support for COVID-19 learning disruptions

Online tutoring services: Grades 4 to 9

The e-Tutoring Hub will help students catch up on important skills and learning they may have fallen behind on due to the pandemic. It launched on January 11, 2022 with free, pre-recorded video tutoring sessions for students in Grades 4 to 9 to strengthen their literacy and numeracy skills.

Later in the year, the free online tutoring resources will be expanded to cover more grades and subjects, including live tutoring. Feedback from school authorities, parents and students will be used to help inform the topics for new tutoring sessions.

Online tutoring sessions on the e-Tutoring Hub will be:

  • free, with unlimited access for all students, parents and school staff
  • up to 15 minutes in length for younger students and up to 60 minutes for older students
  • offered live during the school day, late afternoons and evenings to meet the needs of students and their families
  • designed and delivered to protect individual privacy
  • available 24-7 as recorded videos
  • developed by Alberta certificated teachers working at Alberta Education

Find out more and view tutoring resources on the e-Tutoring Hub at new LearnAlberta.

Fall 2021 funding for targeted programming: Grades 1 to 3

Up to $45 million will support younger students who have fallen behind during the pandemic and more flexibility will be provided for students writing diploma exams. 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 was 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 is exploring 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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