Prime Minister Jason Kenny says schools in Alberta will begin learning live on Jan. 11, as planned by the government ahead of the holiday season.
“The decision to start learning in class on Jan. 11 is based on a careful consideration of the importance of attending school in person,” Kenny told a news conference Thursday, “and the latest evidence that all cases related to school dropouts are age groups in December.”
Kenny said current provincial restrictions will be in place for at least two weeks to slow the spread of the corona virus.
“Alberta’s current health measures will be in place for at least two weeks to ensure that we take into account the real potential for an increase in cases as a result of the holidays, and that our case numbers, hospital admissions and positive rates for testing are high,” he said.
Schools play an important role in helping students’ emotional and mental health, he said.
“At the beginning of the school year, families across Alberta made the best choice for their children and their family situation this year over whether or not to attend class in person with their children.
“Learning at home is often challenging for younger children, from an educational, social and emotional perspective, especially for parents who do not make that choice.”
A further 24 deaths were reported Thursday in Alberta and 968 new cases of Govt-19. A total of 1,217 people have died from COVID-19 in Alberta.
There are 13,298 active cases in the province, 871 of whom are being treated in sick hospitals, including 139 ICU beds.
Labs completed 14,833 tests in the last 24 hours, and the positive rate was 6.4 percent.
Following the most recent restrictions there was a trend of promising to drop case numbers for all school age groups in December, the Prime Minister said, but test numbers fell during the holidays and, as expected, the province continued to see a higher positive rate.
“I stop there to put it in context because we’ve gotten used to the high numbers over the last two months,” Kenny said. “But basically from May to the end of September, I remember a bad day with a positive rate of two per cent. We ‘ve been looking at the last week or seven per cent.”
Although the number of active cases has dropped significantly since the measures were introduced in November, there are still more active cases, new cases and deaths in Alberta on an individual basis than in many other provinces.
“So we need to understand that we’ve made progress, but we’re far from getting out of this.”
Dr. Deena Hinsha, chief medical officer of Alberta Health, joined Kenny at a news conference Thursday.
This is the first time he has been backstage with Kenny Hinshaw since December 22, when he warned Alberts to be vigilant over the holidays, talking about the staggering number of case numbers in the leading health service.
Since then, the province has been embroiled in an MLA travel scandal that has made slow but steady progress in its vaccination campaign, losing three health workers to the disease and seeing a steady decline in reported cases.
A total of 13,450 Alberts are now affected by the disease, the lowest number of active cases seen in Alberta since mid-November.
Despite the collapse of cases, Kenny has suggested that widespread health restrictions should not be lifted next week.
Instead, Kenny said during a live Q & A on his Facebook page Wednesday evening that additional activities will be announced Thursday as part of a plan to get students back to private classes next week.
“We will also provide additional contact tracking support for places where there are explosions in schools, and additional support for teachers,” Kenny said.
“If we remove all restrictions and tear Er … there is no doubt in my mind that we will return to the rapid growth we saw at the end of November and the beginning of December.”
A total of 33,864 doses of the vaccine were administered in the province at the end of Wednesday.