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
After the most expensive election in Canadian history resulted in little change politically, many are asking whether it was worth the $610-million price tag and where else that money could have been spent.
Inside hospitals across Saskatchewan, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, health-care workers are reporting a worsening crisis, with record-breaking COVID-19 hospitalizations pushing the health-care system to the brink.
Long-term care outbreaks are rising, and provinces have different strategies for keeping COVID-19 out
As the fourth wave continues across Canada and community spread climbs, outbreaks are also on the rise inside Canada’s long-term care homes, leading experts to stress the importance of staff being vaccinated — an issue which varies province to province.
The boyfriend of Gabby Petito, whose body was found at a national park in Wyoming after a cross-country trip with him, was charged with unauthorized use of a debit card as searchers continued looking for him Thursday in Florida swampland.
British actor Tom Felton, known for his portrayal of Draco Malfoy in the 'Harry Potter' movies, collapsed while playing a celebrity golf exhibition Thursday at the Ryder Cup.
Canadian fashion model Linda Evangelista says she's been left 'permanently deformed' from a cosmetic procedure that she had approximately five years ago.
The corporate entities of SNC-Lavalin Inc. and SNC-Lavalin International Inc., as well as two former senior executives of the Quebec-based firms have been charged with a series of fraud and forgery offences by the RCMP.
Canada saw only a slight increase in the volume of foreign nationals entering the country in the first week after the border opened to those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
An Ontario mother, who had been holding a one-woman protest for the past week to try to get help with her son's autism care, will finally have her file looked at after a call from the social services minister.
Alberta reported 1,660 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths on Thursday.
Two men were rushed to hospital after an apparent drive-by shooting in south Edmonton Thursday night.
While five front-running mayoral candidates faced off in a forum Thursday afternoon, the other candidate, Mike Nickel, was serving hot dogs in the parking lot of his campaign office.
A possible loophole in B.C.’s vaccine card registration system is making the rounds on social media.
The Vancouver Canucks are banking on the capacity limits at Rogers Arena being lifted in time for the regular season home opener.
In a significant upset, the long-time Conservative incumbent in Richmond Centre has lost her seat to a political newcomer, according to the CTV News Decision Desk.
The cases were among 832 new cases found in B.C. over the past 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.
The president of the Cedar Hill Golf Club says a report from District of Saanich staff recommending changes to the operation df Cedar Hill Golf Course will hurt the club and its members.
Health officials on Vancouver Island have declared clusters of COVID-19 at four more schools in the South Island. There are now five active clusters at schools in the region.
The first twenty-four hours following New Brunswick's rollout of new pandemic restrictions have been rocky for some of the businesses tasked with enforcing the new rules.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting the province’s 95th death related to COVID-19, along with 41 new cases and 20 recoveries on Thursday, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 147.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 52 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with 35 recoveries, as the number of active cases in the province rises to 574.
An Ontario man who had a faulty gas metre and racked up at $1,000 bill says was shocked when the was told he would still have to pay the bill.
Someone in Ontario won more than $21 million in Wednesday’s LOTTO 6/49 draw but has yet to check their ticket.
Unvaccinated MPPs could be prevented from entering Queen’s Park when the legislature resumes in October unless they get tested for COVID-19.
Officers were sent to the home on Rue Dunkerque in Aylmer, Que. just after 2 p.m. Wednesday to carry out a "well-being check."
The hospital has announced that starting Monday, it will require proof of vaccination for visitors entering the hospital.
As of Wednesday, 95 per cent of employees at the Kingston Health Sciences Centre have met the first dose requirement.
After just a few hours of debate, Quebec's National Assembly voted unanimously Thursday evening to pass a new bill that would prohibit anti-vaccine protesters from demonstrating near schools, daycares, and hospitals -- an offence punishable by a fine of up to $12,000.
Quebec kids were at the heart of a heated exchange Thursday over language laws -- specifically, English-speaking kids and whether they're really leaving school with functional French.
Amid major staff shortages, Quebec will cut large cheques to health-care workers in a bid to strengthen a public network put under serious pressure by the pandemic.
A former Kitchener MP has pleaded guilty to assault charges.
Although many businesses in Waterloo Region say the vaccine certificate program has been running smoothly so far, they're prepared for that to change.
Former Nazi death-squad member Helmut Oberlander has died in the midst of his Canadian deportation hearing.
An investigation into the shooting of a white cow moose in northern Ontario last fall has been closed and officials say no charges will be laid.
A 17-year-old from Greater Sudbury has been charged with attempted murder in connection with the stabbing of a woman downtown last week.
CTV News has learned Timmins police have a suspect in custody after one person was killed and two others were injured in a shooting in Schumacher overnight.
A Manitoba critical care doctor and infectious diseases specialist remains cautiously optimistic when it comes to the impact of the fourth wave in Manitoba.
A multi-car crash on a Manitoba highway on Wednesday resulted in police arresting a driver on impaired driving and weapon charges.
Five businesses in Manitoba received tickets last week for not following public health orders.
'Unbelievably heartbreaking': Sask. nurse left waiting for transplant as province suspends organ donation program
Krystal Graham has been on the liver transplant waitlist for about a year. Now, she says she is concerned COVID-19 will delay her life-saving surgery even longer.
The Melville Millionaires have postponed hockey games until further notice after a positive COVID-19 case associated with the team.
Six-year-old Nygah Eashappie is pretty subdued about his newfound fame. The Regina boy is the latest to model in advertisements for local clothing brand; 22Fresh.
Saskatchewan broke COVID-19 hospitalization records again on Thursday, reporting 273 patients in hospital with 58 in intensive care.
Saskatoon City Council will look at a committee recommendation to allow parking patios to operate through the winter, making them a year-round amenity.
A Saskatoon judge has ruled in favor allowing a father to have his child vaccinated despite the mother being opposed to her child getting the shot.