Provinces begin to unveil pandemic policy changes, back-to-school plans

After Alberta announced it will roll back all restrictions, other provinces are releasing COVID-19 reopening plans which are also raising concerns from critics.

Masks will be required in Ontario classrooms this fall for all grades except kindergarten, while Alberta will not require them, and British Columbia has yet to announce its mask requirement for schools.

Alberta is similar to Ontario in that there will be no provision for how schools should plan to manage outbreaks.

B.C. is also not requiring cohorts for learning and that province has not made any changes to its back-to-school plan in recent months, despite the rise of the Delta variant.

The resounding concern from rallies happening daily in Calgary and Edmonton since July 30 is that the health and safety of Alberta's children is at risk.

As well, there's an eagerness to open Alberta's financial books on the handling of the pandemic — a taxpayer-funded report looking into the first wave will be made public this week, according to Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

As daily case counts increase and active cases climb, the lagging indicators of hospitalizations and deaths continue to demonstrate that the fully-vaccinated experience a far milder degree of illness compared to earlier in the pandemic.

Officials say the vast majority of new infections are among the unvaccinated, as are the vast majority of those experiencing severe outcomes.