Some Alberta students and parents anxious as mask rule lifted in schools

EDMONTON — After nearly two years of going to school with their faces covered, students in Alberta now have the option to ditch their masks.

While some said they welcomed the step towards normality, others said they were worried and worried about what has become a divisive political issue in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s very little information about how the schools are running, so maybe it’ll be fine,” said Emma Stephens, a mother of two from Lethbridge, Alberta.

“I personally don’t think it’s going to be okay…because when you take your mitigations away, the cases go up.

“So the problem now is that there will be children who will feel differently from us, families will feel differently from us and they will not want to wear masks, which will create tension for my children.”

The government announced last week that from Monday pupils in schools would no longer be required to wear masks. Additionally, children 12 and under are not required to wear a mask in any setting.

Teachers will have the option not to wear a mask when a province-wide mask mandate is set to be lifted starting March 1, when remaining school requirements, such as cohort, also end.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a letter posted to her Twitter account last week that there was a downward trend in the number of schools switching to home-based learning over the past few years. weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreaks.

“At the height of the fifth wave, 29 schools had switched to home learning, and today only seven of the more than 2,500 schools in our province continue to learn from home.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association said the spread of COVID-19 in the community has not decreased significantly and it is exploring legal options.

Trisha Estabrooks, president of Edmonton Public Schools, said the district plans to tell parents that masks are still encouraged.

On Monday afternoon, some students planned to leave classes early and protest the legislature in support of teachers and healthcare workers.

Brian Wawrow of Edmonton said his children and their friends will be at school on Monday with their masks on.

“They all feel like they are going to be as safe as possible and use their own common sense to continue to protect themselves and the children around them,” he said.

“My biggest fear is that my father is 89 years old. So if my kid gives me COVID, I can’t go see my dad. My wife’s parents are about 70 years old. The health system has been undermined.

Wawrow said he understands everyone is exhausted by the regulations.

“We certainly are, but we want to see a fitting end to (the pandemic) and not just pretend it doesn’t exist anymore.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 14, 2022.

This story was produced with financial assistance from Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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