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Parents scramble after Alberta government cancels classes for 700,000 kids
School bus (CTV Edmonton)
EDMONTON -- Reacting to evidence that coronavirus is currently spreading in Alberta, the province cancelled all kindergarten to Grade 12 classes and in-person post-secondary classes effective Sunday.
Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement at the Legislature, while announcing that the number of confirmed infected Albertans had jumped to 56.
The cancellations affect nearly one million students in the province, including roughly 741,000 K-12 students and 194,000 postsecondary students, according to government statistics.
"All regularly scheduled classes are cancelled regardless of class size,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said.
"We are also asking all licensed childcare facilities and out-of-school care programs to close immediately. Approved day homes are exempt, due to the small amount of children they care for,” Hinshaw added.
CTV News Edmonton broke the news, in person, to many parents outside of a west Edmonton Walmart.
"It’s not OK. But we have to stay home. We would like to go out, but we have to take care," Bunly Pang, a father of three said, agreeing the cancellation was necessary.
"I think it’s a good idea. That’s our future, so let’s protect them," one grandfather said, adding he may have to start babysitting his grandkids. "If I have to, I will. I have no problem with that."
"I work at Denny’s and a lot of the girls there have little kids. I don't what they’re gonna do. Cause how can you work if you have little kids at home?" said one grandmother.
Hinshaw said the decision was not made lightly, but deemed necessary to control the spread of the deadly disease.
"As a parent with children in the school system and in afterschool care programs, I recognize that this is extremely disruptive for many families," Hinshaw said.
It’s not clear how long students will be out, but Hinshaw previously said any cancellations would have to last months, not weeks, to be effective.
The province is still working out details, Hinshaw said Sunday, adding the decision to cancel was made just hours before it was announced.
"Many details are being confirmed. We will provide answers and make sure Albertans get the information they need," she said.
And while parents and grandparents hurry to make plans, there seems to be understanding on the streets, for the decisions being made at the Legislature.
"Smart idea, they should have done it as soon as the virus was in Canada," Peter Salikin said. "Kids are germ factories. They bring it home to the parents and they take it to work and keep spreading it."