After months of uncertainty and adapting to at-home learning, Alberta’s schools will be welcoming students back to classrooms this fall. This week, Alberta’s Premier and Minister of Education announced that students will be returning to classrooms across the province at the beginning of the new school year. This decision has been made with the safety of students, teachers, and other staff members being the highest priority. This coming school year students will be welcomed back to their classrooms under scenario 1, which allows students to be in the classroom with enhanced health measures. As Alberta’s students prepare to go back the Minister of Education will continue to work closely with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hinshaw, as well as school boards, to ensure that all schools are prepared to welcome students back.
As students return to the classroom, several new measures are being put in place for their safety. While school may feel a little different at first, these measures will allow a safe, near-normal return to class. Each school will implement public health measures, including frequent cleaning of surfaces, introducing hand sanitizers to school and classroom entrances, grouping students in cohorts, and adjusting schedules to allow for greater physical distancing. To prepare for these changes, resources are available for parents at alberta.ca/returntoschool.
In addition to returning to schools, Alberta is focused on introducing new programs that will create jobs and set up our economy for a strong recovery. I’m pleased to share that Alberta’s government is putting programs in place to create jobs and attract investment to Alberta’s innovative technology sector. As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, government is introducing the Innovation Employment Grant (IEG) to support small and medium-sized businesses that invest in research and development. This grant will reward businesses that make investments in technology by providing a grant of up to 20 percent of their R&D spending. Programs like the Innovation Employment Grant, when combined with other plans like the Job Creation Tax Cut, will make Alberta an extremely attractive place to do business and create jobs.
As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan our government is reinvesting federal child care dollars to support families who need it most. Through an updated agreement with the Canadian government, Alberta’s government will invest $45 million to help delivery affordable child care to more families who need support. Funding will be used to support three main priorities: affordability, by increasing child care subsidies for many families; accessibility, through new coaching to help child care providers meet the diverse needs of children; and quality, by providing high-quality programming and training. These investments will provide fair access to child care for Albertan parents.
It has been several months since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our daily lives, and fatigue with new ways of life is setting in for many. It is still vital everyone in our community continues the hard work of practicing physical distancing, frequently washing hands, and staying home when sick. As we continue to work on reopening and recovering from this pandemic, it is essential that we continue to take steps that protect ourselves and our loved ones from spreading COVID-19. For the latest information and resources on COVID-19 in Alberta, visit alberta.ca/covid19.