“With the fall leaves just beginning to turn, many Albertans are returning to a familiar routine this week: kids gathering their school supplies, teachers preparing their lessons and parents packing lunches. It’s the start of a new school year – one we’re very excited for.

“The vast majority of students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will return to in-person learning this week – in a classroom with their friends, classmates and teachers. Thanks to the millions of Albertans who chose to be vaccinated against COVID-19, these kids can look forward to sports, field trips, clubs and other activities that bring them joy.

“As a parent and grandparent, I recognize that some parents may be anxious about what the upcoming school year may bring. I want to assure Albertans that the safety of students and staff remains our No. 1 priority. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and will follow the expert advice of the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw. If necessary, we will make changes to the provincial health guidance for schools to ensure a safe and successful school year.

“The No. 1 thing we can do to protect schools against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine yet – now is the time. The school immunization program, starting next week, will help make the COVID-19 vaccine as accessible as possible.

“In addition, I encourage all students and school staff to practise healthy habits like staying home when sick, good hand hygiene, maintaining air flow and keeping buildings clean.

“Thank you to everyone in the school community for all you continue to do to ensure our schools remain safe. Every parent, student, teacher, educational assistant, bus driver, custodian, administrator and board member has an important role to play, and I thank you for your diligence and dedication to Alberta’s students. 

“Let’s keep working together for a healthy, safe and successful school year.”