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Provincial officials order cancellation of all schools in Alberta; 17 new COVID-19 cases

Last Updated Mar 16, 2020 at 5:59 pm MST

Summary

17 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the total in the province to 56

All K-12 schools, post-secondary schools, and daycares are cancelled immediately

Places of worship are also no longer exempt from the recommended restrictions on mass gatherings

EDMONTON — The province has announced its plan to close all school and daycares in the province amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Premier Jason Kenney says all kindergarten to grade 12 classes, as well as all post-secondary school and licensed daycares in the province, will be closed immediately.

This comes after Premier Jason Kenney announced an additional 17 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, bringing the provincial total to 56.

Three of the new cases are in the Edmonton zone, while the other 14 are in the Calgary zone.

Of those 17 news cases, two of them are from community spread, which raises a new level of concern for health officials, while 7 of them came from a single gathering.

“The new cases that have emerged today, particularly those demonstrating transmission into communities and school settings, means we need to put in place additional restrictions for schools, day cares, continuing care facilities, and worship gatherings. These decisions are not made lightly, and I know they will have a tremendous impact on Albertans’ day-to-day lives, particularly parents, children, and seniors. But it is crucial we do everything possible to contain and limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said.

Students will be prohibited from going to school, while teachers will still be available.

Places of worship are also no longer exempt from the recommended restrictions on mass gatherings.

Public health officials continue to recommend that all mass gatherings of 250 people or more are cancelled, and this now includes worship gatherings.

As for licensed child care, out-of-school care programs and preschool programs, they will all be closed immediately. Approved day homes will be exempt from this ruling as they care for fewer than 7 children at a time.

Meanwhile, an additional $500 million will give Alberta’s public health officials the resources they need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The new funding will ensure front-line health professionals have the tools they need for testing, surveillance, and treatment of patients as the province works to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”