Students across Alberta will return to class for the 2020/21 school year under Scenario 1: In-class learning with enhanced health and safety measures.
- COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1
- Get the facts: Back to class for 2020-21
School health measures
Effective August 4, school health measures include mandatory masks for Grade 4 to 12 students and staff where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
The school re-entry plan (2020-21 school year) allows schools and parents to prepare for learning while putting student and staff safety first.
The plan offers guidance on a wide range of operational issues including:
- hygiene and health requirements
- student learning
- diploma exams
- mental health and psychological supports for students and staff
Schools must consider the following health measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Grade 4 to 12 students and staff must wear masks where physical distancing cannot be maintained, including on school buses and shared areas such as hallways.
- Masks are not required while students are seated in the classroom during instruction if following the physical distancing guidance for schools.
- Masks are required in the classroom when close contact between students, or students and staff, is occurring. Masks should be used for the duration of this activity.
- Exemptions will be made for students and staff who are unable to wear a mask due to medical or other needs.
- Mask use for kindergarten to grade 3 students is optional.
- All students and staff will get 2 reusable masks. Government will distribute more than 1.6 million masks to 740,000 students and 90,000 staff.
- School staff will get one reusable face shield to use in schools at their discretion. A mask must still be worn while wearing a face shield.
- Enhance cleaning and disinfecting practices.
- Clean all areas of the school daily.
- Clean washrooms and high-touch surfaces multiple times a day.
- Regularly schedule deep cleaning when students are not present.
Hygiene and illness
- Routinely screen all staff and students
- Create a strict stay-at-home policy for any students or staff with symptoms of COVID-19
- Set hand hygiene expectations when entering and exiting the school and classrooms, before and after eating
- Regularly remind students and staff of respiratory etiquette:
- cover coughs and sneezes
- avoid touching your face
- dispose of used tissues promptly
- practice hand hygiene
Physical distancing and grouping
- Practice physical distancing when possible.
- Emphasize other hygiene practices in classrooms, buses and during activities when physical distancing may not be possible.
- Reorganize rooms to allow for more physical space.
- Create cohorts of students by class where possible.
- Guide foot traffic flow through entrances and hallways by using markers on the floor or pylons/barriers.
- Avoid large gatherings like assemblies.
- Create a “no sharing policy” - all students should have their own supplies.
- Clean equipment between uses if students or staff share anything.
- Mandatory masks for grade 4 to 12 students, and drivers.
- Increase cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces.
- Maintain a protective zone for the driver.
- Assign students to seats that are grouped with other household members.
- Use loading and unloading procedures that support physical distancing of 2 metres between students when possible.
- Government will distribute 466,000 litres of hand sanitizer between all school authorities based on student population.
- Each school will get 2 contactless thermometers.
- Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services are working to expand testing capacity and reduce turnaround times for testing school staff, teachers and students.
Parents, students and school staff must review the self-screening questionnaire each day before going to a school building. Visitors must also use this questionnaire to determine if they may enter a school.
- Self-screening questionnaire (PDF)
People with medical conditions
For students with pre-existing or underlying medical conditions or risk factors, parents should:
- Consult your child’s physician to consider the health risks and make a decision about returning to school that will best support the child.
- Contact your child’s school to discuss available options and support.
Staff should also consult a physician and discuss options with their school board.
In addition to consulting with a physician, Albertans can assess the risk of experiencing severe health outcomes from COVID-19.
A student showing COVID-19 symptoms who has allergies or other pre-existing medical conditions that cause similar symptoms should get at least one negative COVID-19 test result before returning to school.
These symptoms would be their baseline health status. The student can attend school as long as they stay the same. Talk to your school about your child’s pre-existing medical conditions so the school may keep a confidential record of these conditions.
Teachers and school staff
Teachers and educational staff are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms. Learn how to get tested.
Tool kit and resources
Re-entry materials and tool kit resources are being updated to reflect the August 4 announcement that school health measures now include mandatory masks.
Parents and students can use the following resources to prepare for the new school year.
The following guidance documents provide detailed health measures to help keep students and staff safe at schools.
- Guidance for playgrounds
- Guidance for outdoor fitness
- Guidance for sport, physical activity and recreation
- Guidance for Libraries (PDF, 320 KB)
Videos - Returning to school safely
Schools can use the following posters to promote important safety practices.
- Cover your cough (PDF, 3.9 MB)
- Do not enter (PDF, 7.7 MB)
- Healthy distance (PDF, 12.5 MB)
- Personal items (PDF, 19.5 MB)
- Stay safe (PDF, 3.3 MB)
- Wash your hands (PDF, 4.7 MB)
- Wash and sanitize your hands (PDF, 4.5 MB)
Learning at home
There may be situations in which students learn from home. Alberta offers several education options to support this.
If there is a case of COVID-19 at school
If a student shows symptoms at school:
- student will be asked to wear a non-medical mask and be isolated in a separate room or kept at least 2 metres away from others
- parents will be contacted to pick up the child immediately (ensure your school has up-to-date contact information)
If a school has a confirmed positive case:
- the zone medical officer of health will work with school authorities to quickly:
- identify when symptoms developed
- identify and contact people who had close contact with the person who tested positive, offer testing, and set the isolation measures:
- people are legally required to isolate for 14 days if they live with or are a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19
- only people in direct contact with a confirmed case need to isolate
- each school authority will:
- notify staff and parents if a case is confirmed at school
- support students and staff to learn or work at home if they are required to self-isolate
If a school has 2 or more cases:
- the school would be considered to have an outbreak
- medical officers will assess the spread and exposure risk to determine if it affects multiple grades and areas, or is confined within close contacts of a confirmed case, and provide specific recommendations – an outbreak will not automatically lead to school closure
Assessment and student supports
- Diploma exams will be offered in every subject in the November, January, April, June and August exam sessions.
Provincial achievement tests (PATs)
- Schools can offer PATs in the following subjects:
- Language Arts
- French Language Arts/Français
- PATs for grades 6 and 9 can be held if in-school classes are available. School authorities can choose to participate.
- School authorities can, as deemed appropriate at the local level, reduce time spent teaching non-core subjects to allow for additional instruction time on core subjects.
- Schools should have mental health supports in place for students and staff.
How we got here
School authorities planned for 3 scenarios to begin the 2020/21 school year. Alberta schools will welcome students in the fall under scenario 1.
- Scenario 1 – In-school classes resume, near-normal operations with health measures
- Scenario 2 – In-school classes partially resume with additional health measures
- Scenario 3 – At home learning continues, in-school classes are cancelled
Health officials will work with school authorities to make the decision to transition to partial in-class learning or at-home learning based on multiple factors including the number of COVID-19 cases in a community or a school and the risk of ongoing transmission.