School board wants Alberta government to close all schools due to COVID-19 cases

Edmonton Public Schools wants the Alberta government to close all schools in the province because COVID-19 is spreading among students.

The school board has passed a motion to ask the United Conservative government to implement a “firebreak” lockdown.

Premier Jason Kenney is to hold a new conference about COVID-19 later today with Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Health Minister Jason Copping.

Kenney has been facing growing pressure from parents, educators and the Opposition NDP to reinstate contact tracing in schools.

Earlier this year, the government said it was no longer mandatory for students to isolate after close contact with a positive case.

An advocacy group called Support Our Students, which is tracking COVID-19 cases in Alberta schools, says almost 10 per cent of elementary and secondary schools have active outbreaks.

The NDP urged the premier Tuesday to use the military to do contact tracing in schools.

Eight critical care nurses with the Canadian Armed Forces are to help Alberta hospitals that have been overwhelmed with COVID-19.

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said many military members who don't have clinical backgrounds can be trained to contact trace in schools instead.

On Monday, Edmonton Public Schools also announced it will be requiring employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or to provide regular negative tests.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2021.