Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange held a short-notice press confrence to inform parents, students, teachers and support staff the winter break would be extended by one week on Thursday, December 30.
Schools were set to re-open on Monday, January 3; however, due to rising cases of COVID-19 in communities across the province and the rising number of Omicron cases, the return to class will be delayed until January 10 to allow teachers to prepare for both in-person and online learning scenarios.
“With students and staff still on holidays, it’s very hard for anyone at this time to fully assess what the situation for schools may look like. School authorities have told us they need more time to prepare and understand what the evolving COVID situation could mean in terms of staffing and potential operational impacts,” Minister LaGrange said.
Further communication whether students will resume learning in-person or online is expected the week of January 3.
Minister LaGrange also announced schools will receive some 8.6 million rapid tests and 16.5 million medical-grade masks beginning the week of January 10 and diploma exams scheduled for January have also been cancelled; no decision has yet been made regarding diploma exams scheduled for April or June 2022.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Minister of Health Jason Copping provided a COVID update on Friday, December 31.
No new restrictions were announced, though Dr. Hinshaw and Minister Copping urged the public to keep New Years gatherings small or hold gatherings outdoors to ring in 2022.
They also announced changes to the self-isolation period for people who receive a positive COVID test result, which went into effect Monday, January 3. Individuals who test positive for COVID and who have received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are no longer required to isolate for 10 days, provided symptoms have resolved. Masks continue to be required for these individuals when in public and around others.
Those who have not received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine must still isolate for the full 10 days.
The provincial COVID website was not updated until after press time on Tuesday, January 4; however, preliminary estimates on December 30 showed an estimated 4,000 new cases and a positivity rating of about 30 per cent.
As of the last report on December 29, there were 53 active cases in the Town of Drumheller.
The Mail reported online on December 30 a private function sparked an outbreak among staff members at the Drumheller Institution; as of the December 31 Correctional Service Canada (CSC) update, a total of 25 inmates at the Institution have since tested positive for COVID-19.
In the surrounding areas there were 17 active cases in Kneehill County, seven cases in Starland County, and 20 cases in Wheatland County.