EDMONTON -- Premier Jason Kenney announced on Thursday Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions will be extended until at least Jan. 21.

He also said students who chose to learn in person will return to the classroom on Monday.

Kenney reported 968 COVID-19 cases with a positivity rate of 6.4 per cent, 871 hospitalizations with 139 people in ICU and 24 deaths.

Citing high hospitalizations and positivity rates, the premier said the current restrictions—which include no gatherings or in-person services at restaurants and bars—will stick around for two more weeks.

“We need to see what impact the holidays had on testing, and of course, we also need to prioritize reopening the schools as we are doing and begin to see what impact that may have, although we're confident it will not accelerate widespread social transmission. That has not been the case in the past.

COVID-19 numbers have dropped since Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw introduced restrictions to curb spread in November and December, but both said they’re still very high.

“We still have not seen the impact of the recent holidays,” Hinshaw said, “and we will be closely monitoring the spread over the coming weeks to determine whether it is safe to recommend beginning to relax our current approach.”

Junior high and high school students have been learning online since the end of November, and all students stayed home this week.

Hinshaw once again argued in-person learning is relatively safe after data indicated that only six per cent of school cases were transmitted in the classroom.

Alberta Health Services has given out 33,864 doses of the vaccine as of Wednesday.

Kenney said he talked to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers about the vaccine rollout Thursday afternoon, details he would share in a news conference on Friday.