I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year and hope you had a great holiday season. 2022 has had a challenging start as we continue to see Omicron spread faster than any other COVID wave before. The next few weeks will continue to be a challenge, however, once we get through this wave I am optimistic that 2022 will get better. We are seeing our economy turn around with record investments and diversification, and jobs are returning.
As we continue to gather scientific data about Omicron we are monitoring how it is impacting Albertans and our overall health care system. I urge you to continue to follow the measures in place, stay home if you are not well, get a rapid test kit when available to use and get vaccinated, including your second dose and booster shot.
In this e-newsletter you will learn more about the COVID measures in place, including further rapid test kits coming to Alberta. You will also read more about the return to school plan for students. Our government, under the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health, knows it is important for kids to return to in-person classes and we have taking further measures to protect students and staff with rapid test kits and masks for all students and staff.
Due to the vast spread of Omicron I have decided to cancel the New Year open house event that was planned for January 15th at the Silver Sprigs Community Centre. I was looking forward to meeting with many of you and wishing you well for the new year, but we must keep safety in mind. Please note that I will hold another virtual town hall later this winter.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office to schedule a phone call at firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe return to in-person learning
After hearing feedback from school authorities and education partners, Alberta’s government will be supporting a return to in-person learning for all early childhood to grade 12 students on Jan. 10.
Experts agree and continue to stress the importance of in-person learning to the overall health of children and youth, which is why we will continue prioritizing in-class learning for students. We are supporting a safe and successful return to school by providing 8.6 million rapid test kits to schools for distribution to all students and staff who want them. Alberta’s schools will also receive 16.5 million medical grade masks for students and staff.
Health measures already in place will continue to protect students in classrooms, including masking, physical distancing, cohorting and enhanced sanitization and hygiene practices. School authorities will continue to have the authority and flexibility to assess whether or not certain schools or grades in their districts should be moved online, if necessary. Decisions to shift entire schools or school authorities to at-home learning will remain with the Alberta government, with input from school authorities. For both situations, consideration will be given to student absentee rates, staffing numbers and availability, and other relevant information including local health data.
Alberta Education is also introducing a new tool, the e-Tutoring Hub, to address COVID-related learning disruption for grades 4-9 students. The e-Tutoring Hub will be launched with pre-recorded video tutoring sessions that students and their parents can freely access at any time.
Later this year, Alberta Education will expand the online tutoring services to cover more grades and subjects, including live online tutoring.
Updated isolation requirements
We’re taking a balanced approach to public health measures to protect Albertans and prevent our health care facilities from being overwhelmed by the Omicron variant. Preparing for what may come next means reducing the isolation requirements for fully vaccinated individuals.
Evidence shows that fully immunized people have shorter infectious periods than those who are not immunized. We believe this step will help prevent disruptions in Alberta’s workforce, especially for those who deliver the services Albertans count on.
Alberta’s isolation requirements have been updated to the following:
- Fully vaccinated: isolate for 5 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition. For 5 days following isolation, wear a mask at all times when around others outside of home.
- Not fully vaccinated: isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing illness or health condition.
- If you test negative but have symptoms, stay home and away from others until well.
Rapid test kits
Our government has secured an additional 15 million at home rapid test kits and will start receiving shipment of these kits over the next month. There will be shipments of three million tests each week through January in addition of four million tests provided by the federal government. These kits will then be shipped around the province for distribution to AHS clinics and pharmacies.
You can find more information about the rapid test kits here.
Budget 2022 input
In addition to attracting investment, controlling spending and putting a check on the amount of debt being left to future generations, the government is looking to hear from all Albertans on their priorities for their families, businesses and communities.
After more than a year of historic economic challenges, Alberta is once again poised to lead the nation in economic growth. Budget 2022 is an opportunity to continue improving the province’s finances.
Albertans can share their views and ideas for the next budget by filling out an online survey and joining telephone town halls with Finance Minister Travis Toews.
Businesses, municipalities, industry associations and other groups can also send budget submissions on behalf of their organizations.
The government is now accepting budget submissions, and the online survey is live until Jan. 15. Telephone town halls will also take place in January. More information is available at alberta.ca/BudgetConsultation. Alberta’s government is interested in Albertans’ spending priorities as well as their ideas about where to look for savings and how to strengthen the economy.
In the community
As January can bring cold weather to the city I encourage you to follow your local community online to see what activities and events they have coming up. We are fortunate to have some of the most vibrant communities in our riding and they have many online resources and community groups to help fill the long winter days.
Silver Springs Community AGM – January 13
Members of the Silver Springs Community, I will be attending the virtual AGM on January 13th at 7:30 pm. I look forward to attending and brining a few words and taking a few questions. Click here for more information on the AGM and to get yourself registered.
Silver Springs Community LEGO showcase – January 29
The Silver Springs community is holding its annual LEGO showcase. This is usually a LEGO competition, however this year to keep the spirit alive and to keep the community safe it will be a virtual showcase.
Pictures submitted between Jan 4th and Jan 18 will be posted on the Silver Springs website and after the event there will be random draws with some prizes up for grabs.
Please submit your entries to email@example.com
Parkdale Accessible Community Rink Grand Opening – January 29
With the first fully accessible outdoor rink in Western Canada why not try out your skates on January 29th during the grand opening of this community rink. Congratulations to all the volunteers in the community for making this rink accessible to all. You can also get involved with the community as they are seeking volunteers to help keep the ice clean. Become a rink ranger today. You can find more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.