COVID-19 pandemic: Calgary K-12 schools close, universities move classes online
As of Sunday, 56 people have been diagnosed with the illness in the province
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced all K-12 schools and child-care centres will be closed, effective immediately as of Sunday, March 15.
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The novel coronavirus outbreak has officially been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and a number of universities, schools and workplaces around the world have moved operations online as an effort to curb its spread.
As the number of people diagnosed in Alberta with COVID-19 rises to 39, here are the measures Calgary's universities and K-12 schools are taking.
Alberta Health has not yet decided to close schools in the province, saying that a closure would need to last eight to 12 weeks to be effective.
Alberta chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, has said options like closing an individual school, an entire division, or all schools are still on the table.
The Calgary Board of Education said it's working directly with Alberta Health Services and Calgary Emergency Management Agency, and has set up an internal task force.
If children are sick or if immediate family members have recently travelled or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, the CBE is asking parents to keep those students home and call Health Link at 811.
The CBE plans to remind students of the importance of handwashing and has stepped up cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
The CBE has cancelled events, group rentals, field trips and student travel. Volunteers have been asked to postpone activities.
The Calgary Catholic School District cancelled all field trips and travel and said all absences will be excused should parents choose to keep children at home.
University of Calgary
Students at the U of C were told Friday that classes were suspended, and when classes resume Monday the insturction will be through remote learning.
Academic staff were asked earlier in the week to prepare contingency plans to deliver courses online with alternative forms of assessment if necessary, in case final exams are cancelled.
The campus will stay open and staff and faculty will be at work.
Anyone who has symptoms is being asked to stay away from campus and call 811.
The U of C suspended travel and study abroad programs through affected regions until September 2020, and is asking anyone who has recently returned from certain regions to self-isolate until they have been back in Canada and symptom free for at least 14 days. A list of the affected regions is available on the university's website.
Mount Royal University
On Saturday, MRU said it is transitioning away from face-to-face course delivery to alternative methods of instruction on Monday. The campus and services will remain open.
MRU has suspended university-related travel for students and staff.
Bow Valley College
The college said effective March 16, classes are paused and will resume remotely as of March 23.
Bow Valley College said effective Thursday, all events that would have been held on campus are being postponed or cancelled.
Employees are being encouraged to hold meetings virtually or by phone and any travel outside of southern Alberta isn't permitted unless it's considered critical for college business.
Alberta University of the Arts
AUArts said classes were suspended from March 16 to 21, to prepare for classes to resume remotely on March 23.
St. Mary's University
Travel for staff, faculty and students to any country designated by Global Affairs Canada as a Level 3 or 4 risk is suspended until further notice.
All travel outside the province not "considered vital to the academic mission of the university" is suspended. Members of the university community are being encouraged to evaluate risks before booking personal travel.
The university said that because it's small, there's no need yet to restrict public gatherings, but said plans are in place to accommodate classes in case of campus closure.
SAIT said it will suspend classes until March 18, and on March 19 will transition to online and alternative delivery of programs. Campuses will remain open.
SAIT also cancelled its study abroad programs, effective Tuesday, and is prohibiting employee-related travel to countries on the government's active travel advisory list. It also suspended off-campus programs and its culinary campus.
Ambrose University said it is monitoring the risk, and has contingency plans in place in the event that in-class learning needs to be cancelled.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Common symptoms include:
But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.
What should I do if I feel sick?
Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.
How can I protect myself?
More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.