A new Alberta government regulation prohibits schools from requiring students to wear masks, or moving to an online class model.
Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classes are excluded and schools in sensitive settings such as hospitals may be exempt from the rules.
“Parents and students have told me time and time again that they want a normal school environment for their kids,” Premier Danielle Smith said in an afternoon news release Thursday.
Smith’s statement said new regulations “enhance educational choice” and require the education system to support that choice.
The statement says the government is concerned about the mental health implications of children missing in-person classes during the pandemic. It also says some children struggled with online learning during the past three years, and that an in-person option should help children keep up with their academics.
The news release said schools and school boards were seeking clarity on what public health measures they could consider adopting.
Smith campaigned for United Conservative Party leadership on the promise that children would never be required to masks in school again.
The new regulations apply to public, Catholic, Francophone, private and charter schools.