'Worse than last time in December': Calls grow to close all Alberta schools as active cases climb among youth
EDMONTON -- The Alberta government says there are no plans to return all students to at-home learning despite rapidly spiking cases among school-aged children and teens.
Premier Jason Kenney has said closing schools again as he did in January would be "the last thing" his government will do, citing the value of in-person classroom instruction.
On Wednesday afternoon, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced all Calgary students in Grades 7 to 12 would shift to online learning for the next two weeks at the request of the Calgary Board of Education and Calgary Catholic School District.
Edmonton school districts have not made that request, LaGrange said.
As of Wednesday morning, 73 Alberta schools had an outbreak involving 10 or more cases. Active cases among young Albertans have grown rapidly amid the pandemic's third wave.
"I think it is concerning to see how young people in particular in this third wave are being impacted by these variants," said Edmonton Public School Board Chair Trisha Estabrooks.
Active cases among those aged 10-19 reached 2,520 at last count, an increase of more than a thousand since the start of the month.
Hospitalizations reflect a similar trend. The number of patients in age groups under the age of 50 have shown the largest increases relative to where they were at the same point in March.
Some parents are also calling on the province to close classrooms, saying the risk of students contracting and spreading the virus is too great.
"It is looking worse than last time in December," said Wing Li with Support Our Students, a group of parents, teachers and other community members.
"We need to get education workers vaccinated. They need to be top of the line now."