Edmonton Public Schools calls for guidance for return to classrooms as Alberta reports 501 new cases of COVID-19

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Edmonton Public Schools are calling on the province for guidance on a safe return to the classroom before parents have to make a decision on whether their children will learn in-person or online for the coming school year.

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Board chairwoman Trisha Estabrooks said Wednesday she has heard a number of concerns and frustrations from parents on the return to school ahead of the deadline to choose on Aug. 16.

“We are three weeks from the beginning of the start of the next school year and there’s still a lot of uncertainty,” she said.

“I think parents are reflecting back on the school year that was, knowing that the health measures, the COVID protocols that were in place at Edmonton Public, they worked.”

She said parents are asking to keep those same protocols in place, and it’s a move that makes sense given that children under 12 cannot be vaccinated at this time and the increase of the Delta variant. However, they have to wait for direction from the Government of Alberta.

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“I know parents are frustrated and I would say that we’re frustrated too,” she said.

“We’re really hoping to see at least at the earliest this week some clear direction from the province in terms of, will they take the leadership, will they be setting the direction for schools, or will they allow schools, if they’re not going to set the direction for us, will they give school boards the autonomy to set the direction for themselves?”

On Tuesday, Nicole Sparrow, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange’s press secretary, said a guidance document is being finalized and will be released in mid-August.

Meanwhile, Alberta reported 501 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Over the last 24 hours, 8,613 tests were completed for a positivity rate of 5.8 per cent.

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Across the province there are 3,769 active cases of COVID-19, an increase of 306 since Tuesday.

There are 138 people in hospital with the virus, an increase of five since Tuesday. Of those, 31 are in intensive care units, an increase of two.

One more death raised the provincial death toll to 2,331.

In the Edmonton Zone, which includes the city of Edmonton and surrounding municipalities, there are 837 active cases of COVID-19, an increase of 75. The city of Edmonton currently has 610 of those active cases, an increase of 42, and 58.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Another 311 new variant cases were also recorded. Of those, 304 were the Delta variant, four were the Gamma variant and three were the Alpha variant.

As of end-of-day Tuesday, there has been 5,406,352 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in Alberta, an increase of 7,741.

Of eligible Albertans aged 12 and older, 76.5 per cent have received at least one dose of vaccine while 67.2 per cent are fully immunized with two doses.

ajunker@postmedia.com

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