Parents, teachers say COVID-19 will 'run rampant' in Alberta schools after pandemic policy change
Many students, parents and teachers say they're feeling abandoned by the Alberta government after another provincial change to masking and isolation rules put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province announced on Wednesday that face coverings will not be mandatory when school starts back up in September.
It also nixed rules surrounding virus isolation, making quarantine no longer mandatory if Albertans get sick with COVID-19 after Aug. 16.
One parent says she's seriously considering taking a leave from work to keep her children from reentering their classrooms in the fall.
"We are going to be in a position where we don't know how high the case numbers are because they are no longer testing (to the same extent) and so we don't know if school is safe," Sarah Mackey told CTV News. "You can say, 'vaccines are incredible,' but that only works in places where vaccine coverage is high enough to have that mitigating effect."
Mackey says her two young daughters are worried about the coming year. And she was just one parent sounding the alarm Thursday.
Many Albertans echo the concern of COVID-19 entering their child's school, especially considering those born in 2010 or later are not eligible for immunization.
"I understand that we are going to shift into a new sort of way of thinking about COVID, but we are not asking for another 18 months of this level of dedication. We're asking for a couple of months until we can get these kids vaccinated and keep schools a safe place," Mackey said. "That doesn't seem like too much to ask."
Alberta Teachers' Association representative Jonathan Teghtmeyer said educators are also worried.
"It's quite possible that schools don't even know when students are attending school after they've been positively identified as a COVID case," he said. "(The government) is just going to allow COVID to run rampant in schools."
Situational masking was required in schools in the 2020-2021 school year.
During the upcoming year, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says it'll be "recommended as a temporary outbreak intervention."
According to Support Our Students Alberta, 87 schools were forced to close after the January break thanks to outbreaks.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro told CTV News officials will be keeping a close eye on any outbreaks in the new year, but stopped short of explaining how that may be possible without extended testing and isolation periods.
"This is a plan that is based on the science and based on the data," Shandro said. "We didn't see the significant concerns of transmission in the schools and (Hinshaw) is going to continue to monitor the situation in our schools."
There is currently a low rate of severe outcomes amongst children who have the virus.
But Mackey argues she's worried about the long term impact of COVID-19 if one of her two young daughters were to get the virus from their classroom.
"We're just putting these kids in danger for no good reason," she said. "What's the harm in having kids continue to mask in school? What's the harm in having kids who are testing positive stay home? What's the harm in continuing to allow kids to access testing?"
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange turned down an interview request for this story.
Her office says specific guidance for the school year is still being finalized and will be released in mid-August.
Calgary Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said she expects a submission from Pfizer in the coming weeks for the use of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine in children ages five to 11.
Canadians living in long-term care homes and other congregate-care settings should receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, Canada's vaccine advisory body recommended on Tuesday.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for a man who police say fled the Toronto area after allegedly killing an Ontario couple that disappeared earlier this month.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that he intends to name his new cabinet in October, bring Parliament back 'before the end of fall,' and implement the promised federal vaccine mandate as soon as possible. Chrystia Freeland will continue as deputy prime Minister and finance minister, Trudeau said.
A family and emergency physician in northeastern Ontario has been barred from issuing exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines, masking requirements and testing as he faces a disciplinary hearing before the province's medical regulator.
A total of 35 of the 39 people stuck underground at Vale's Totten Mine in Sudbury, Ont., have now been rescued, Vale reported late Tuesday afternoon. A team of doctors is on-site and checking workers as they emerge from underground.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he hopes to share a decision on whether to ban Huawei Technologies from Canada's 5G wireless network rollout 'in the coming weeks.'
'She cannot have died in vain': Anniversary of Joyce Echaquan's death marked with calls to fight racism
A ceremony was held Tuesday marking the one-year anniversary of the death of Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman who was humiliated by staff in a hospital northeast of Montreal as she lay dying, sparking outrage across the country.
Three people have been arrested in connection with what police are calling a 'million-dollar heist' from a business near Toronto Pearson International Airport last spring.
Alberta reported 1,246 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as the fourth wave continues to pressure the province’s health care system with a record high number of hospitalizations.
The total number of active cases among school-aged children (between five and 19 years old) now stands at 5,439, an increase of 4,168 from the start of September.
'Flirting on the knife's edge': Oilers welcome fans back as doctors warn a new lockdown is needed in Alberta
For the first time since the NHL suspended its 2019-20 season in March of last year, the Edmonton Oilers will welcome fans back into Rogers Place on Tuesday night.
'Mom, I can't get ahold of anybody at 911': B.C. woman faces difficulty getting ambulance for injured grandson
Issues last week with B.C.'s 911 service provider meant some callers, including a B.C. grandmother, faced long waits or were unable to get through at all.
An area of Squamish has been "contained," Mounties say in an update on the search for a man believed to be armed.
Syringes were reused for COVID-19 vaccines at a B.C. pharmacy, the Fraser Health Authority has confirmed.
The new cases were among 652 cases recorded across the province over the past 24 hours, according to BCCDC data.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge has denied an extension to an injunction against protesters blockading old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island, saying the actions of the RCMP at the injunction site have put the court’s reputation at risk.
Nanaimo RCMP are searching for a group of teens after two youths reportedly assaulted a man on Monday morning.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 68 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, along with 84 recoveries, as the total number of active cases in the province drops to 632.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting the province's 97th COVID-19 related death, as well as 32 new cases and 28 recoveries, as 205 active cases remain in the province.
In the wake of the resulting public pressure, the province began publishing its daily school update Tuesday – a list of schools with at least one COVID-19 exposure in the past 30 days, organized by notification date.
Grieving daughter begs Ontario to mandate vaccines for long-term care staff after vaccinated mother dies
Kim Beaver says that as she sat outside the room where her mother died at a long-term care facility in Oshawa, Ont., she could hear the haunting sounds down the hall of other seniors, sick with COVID-19, wheezing and struggling to breathe.
A region in Ontario is warning about an aggressive new tactic that uses a loophole to help make sales.
Ottawa's four main school boards are reporting 112 active COVID-19 cases between them as of Tuesday afternoon and Ottawa Public Health is reporting 15 ongoing outbreaks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reaffirming his pre-election pledge to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for federal public servants.
Ottawa Police investigate collision at Somerset Steet W and Bronson
Kevin Smith Chartree was 27 years old when he died of COVID-19. The father of two had received just one dose of a vaccine when he received his positive diagnosis on Sept. 1.
Weeks after selling the Outremont mansion of Quebec Premier François Legault, one of Montreal’s highest-profile realtors agreed to pay a $20,000 fine for breaching the real-estate ethics code.
A 32-year-old woman in the Lanaudière region has died, and police have arrested a 36-year-old man in connection with her death.
A Norfolk County farm where around 200 migrant workers tested positive for COVID-19 last spring and summer is now facing 27 charges under the Reopening Ontario Act and the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is tightening its COVID-19 self-isolation policy, now requiring all non-vaccinated members of a high-risk contact's household to also stay home and isolate.
Waterloo Region added 17 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.
An addictions group in Sault Ste. Marie is calling for more transparency when it comes to a planned addictions facility in the city.
What should have been a relaxing family reunion for a military family who hasn’t seen each other for nearly six years, has turned into a fight with Air Canada following travel complications.
Some Point Douglas area homes have been evacuated as a precaution and one firefighter has been taken to hospital as crews continue to battle a large fire burning in an abandoned warehouse that could take days to extinguish.
A 19-year-old Indigenous woman says she was assaulted by a Winnipeg cab driver who she believed was possibly trying to abduct her, but the cab company says it was the driver who was being attacked.
A man has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing sixboys and showing pornography to them and other boys in a northern Manitoba community.
NDP leader Ryan Meili called the lack of availability from the Saskatchewan’s premier and health minister an “unbelievable abdication of duty.”
The Mosiac Company has pledged to match up to 150,000 meals worth of donations with the start of the Mosaic Million Meal Challenge.
Three days before the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada the former residential school in Lebret, Sask. was vandalized.
A 13-year-old boy charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 37-year-old woman in Choiceland is related to the victim.
Roxy Theatre general manager Jordan Delorme says he supports needing proof of vaccination, but adds the province needs to do a better job of letting businesses know exactly what is expected.
Police were on scene in downtown Saskatoon after a "suspicious package" was reported.