No Alberta schools or pre-kindergarten classes can require students to wear masks to attend school, says a new provincial government regulation.
The rules, which take effect today, also prevent almost every Alberta school from shifting Grade 1 to 12 classes to a solely online format.
Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes are excluded and schools in sensitive settings such as hospitals may be exempt from the rules.
“Parents and students have told me time and time again that they want a normal school environment for their kids,” Premier Danielle Smith said in an afternoon news release Thursday.
Smith’s statement said new regulations “enhance educational choice” and require the education system to support that choice.
The news release said schools and school boards were seeking clarity on what public health measures they could consider adopting.
The change comes as children’s hospitals and schools are grappling with a wave of sick children and teens.
Doctors say pediatric emergency departments across the country are slammed with children showing up with respiratory and gastrointestinal infections.
Public health doctors have said influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 are leading to a triple whammy of health challenges for children.
Should Alberta’s chief medical officer of health decide to require additional public health measures in school to control outbreaks of disease, those orders would take precedence over the new school regulations.
More to come.
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