Alberta, which has one of the highest COVID-19 cases among all provinces, announced an extension of mandatory restrictions for another two weeks, until Jan. 21. Measures include a ban on all indoor and outdoor social gatherings, which had been in place since December 2020. Students in grades K-12 will return to school on Jan. 11 as planned.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said that this decision was based on careful consideration of the importance of in-person learning and recent evidences of a drop in new cases found in schools for all age groups.
“I want to recognize the effort of school staff, teachers and parents to follow health measures and help us keep classrooms safe for Alberta students. I’m confident this effort will continue and we’ll see a successful return to in-person learning to the benefit of all students,” Kenney said during a press conference on Thursday.
Roughly 20 percent of the families in Alberta decided, at the start of the school year in 2020, to have their children learn from home, while most parents are sending their children back to school.
“Schools play a critical role in supporting student learning as well as their emotional health and overall well-being,” said Adriana LaGrange, the provincial minister of education. “A return to school will provide our students with the familiar daily routine of learning in class and will restore some sense of normalcy for both students and families amidst these unusual times.”
In B.C., the Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry also announced an extension of the province-wide restrictions on private and public social gatherings to Feb. 5, 2021.
B.C. has less cases but decided on the extension out of a precaution for the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, especially with the more transmissible variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus found last month in the UK still on the spread.
On Jan. 7, B.C. reported two new cases linked to the new UK variant. Public health officials have confirmed that both patients were household members of the first individual in the province who were identified with the UK variant on Dec. 27, 2020.
“Here in B.C., we are and will continue to do all we can to protect our province, and we ask everyone to do the same,” Henry said in a statement. “Brighter days are without a doubt ahead, when thousands more will be immunized from COVID-19 and the spread of the virus has slowed.”