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Alberta families adapting to removal of school mask mandates

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Alberta students no longer need to wear their masks while in school or on the school bus.

Like many families, Karina Thiessen and her children have had to adjust and adapt to the constantly changing situation as they navigate school during the pandemic. The lifting of the school mask mandate is yet another change.

"It’s been OK, we’ve been managing it, and it’s been OK," said Thiessen.

"I think it’s a step in the right direction to kind of get normalcy back, but it kind of makes us a little bit nervous as we are going to make our children still wear it for about a month just to see how everything goes."

Her two sons, Jakob Prud’homme, who is in grade 11, and Daylen Thiessen, who is in grade three, are taking it in stride.

"It doesn’t really bother me that much, so long as everyone understands the consequences of lifting it and not wearing a mask, but if they wear a mask, that’s their decision," said Jakob.

"I might take it off for a little bit, but I might keep it on in class," added Daylen.

Despite the province lifting the school mask mandate, families can still decide if they want to keep their children masked. However, some say that’s not enough.

On Sunday, about a dozen people protested in front of Education Minister Adriana LaGrange’s office in Red Deer.

And on Monday, a school walk-out is planned outside Nelson Mandela High School, organized by grade 11 student William Devine.

"We feel like our safety is being jeopardized because we should be wearing masks," said Devine.

"School boards should have the right to make their own public policies because they know better and they know most about their students rather than the provincial government."

LaGrange’s office released a statement on Sunday saying in part, “given the very low threat that COVID-19 poses to the health of children, and the declining impacts of Omicron in the province, it is no longer justifiable to continue to disrupt and restrict the normal lives of kids.”

She also said students and staff will continue to stay in their cohorts at school and there will be enhanced cleaning and sanitization. 

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