Classes cancelled as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw delivers an COVID-19 update on March 15th, 2019. (YourAlberta, Youtube)
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Students will be at home for the foreseeable future as the Government of Alberta has announced the cancellation of all K-12 and post secondary classes effective immediately.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says students are expected to stay home, but school authorities will continue on as operations aren’t expected to cease.

LaGrange says the Alberta government will also be working with post-secondary institutions to ensure that class cancellations will not prevent students from being eligible for admission to post-secondary studies for the coming school year.

She adds every K-12 student will receive a final mark and students will progress to their next grade level next year. LaGrange says things like the provincial achievement test are cancelled, but adds diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will continue, with every eligible student expected to graduate this year.

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The government has also announced all licensed child care, out-of-school care programs, and pre-school programs across the province should also be closed immediately. Exemptions for approved day homes have been put in place as they care for fewer than seven children at a time.

“These decisions are not made lightly, and I know they will have a tremendous impact on Albertans’ day-to-day lives, particularly parents, children, and seniors. But it is crucial we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19,” says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

The decision was made after evidence was uncovered that community transmission may have begun among two of the 17 new cases reported in Alberta over the last 24 hours.

Dr. Hinshaw says at least two cases identified in the last two days appear to have been acquired through community transmission from an unknown source in Calgary. In total, 13 of the new cases were in the Calgary zone, with four being reported in the Edmonton zone. The North Zone, which encompasses Grande Prairie, still has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Dr. Hinsaw also announced that effective immediately places of worship are no longer exempt from the recommended restrictions on mass gatherings. She adds any mass gathering of 250 or more is expected to be cancelled.

The province is also placing restrictions on visitation to long term care or seniors facilities. The recommended restriction will be in place for all but essential visitors.

Premier Jason Kenney also announced Sunday that province will be putting an additional $500 million into the public health budget.

“This is truly an unprecedented public health emergency for Alberta, and our government is committed to bolstering the efforts of our front-line health professionals with the resources they need to continue protecting the province” he says.

He is urging against any non-essential travel.

We will update as more local information becomes available.

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