Alberta closes schools after seeing more coronavirus community spread

Mar 15 2020, 5:11 pm

Alberta is closing schools indefinitely to curb the spread of COVID-19 after discovering significant community transmission of the virus, officials said Sunday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said 17 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, bringing the provincial total to 56.

Two of the patients caught the virus from an unknown source — they didn’t travel or have contact with another confirmed case. What’s more, seven of the new cases were spawned at a single gathering in Calgary.

“The new cases that have emerged today, particularly those demonstrating transmission into communities and school settings, means we need to put in place additional restrictions for schools, day cares, continuing care facilities, and worship gatherings,” Hinshaw said.

“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.”

Student attendance at K-12 schools is forbidden, effective immediately. There’s no word on when classes will resume.

The province gave the following details in a statement:

  • All students will be given a final mark and progress to the next grade in September 2020
  • Provincial achievement tests are cancelled
  • Exams necessary for high school students to get their diploma will continue
  • Every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate

Licensed childcare programs, out-of-school care, and preschools will also be closed. Home daycares with fewer than seven children can continue to operate.

Classes at all Alberta post-secondary are also cancelled, although campuses can remain open.

The province recommended long-term care facilities to limit visitors. The province also extended rules forbidding mass gatherings so they apply to places of worship as well.

With coronavirus on the rise, Health Canada is reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.