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Health Measures and Vaccine Updates: Impacts to the Post-Secondary Sector

A message from Alberta Advanced Education: March 16, 2021

Alberta Health has updated their Health Measures to reflect the latest Step 2b changes that came into effect on March 8th and Dr. Hinshaw announced on March 15th, details of Alberta’s vaccination roll-out that impacts some post-secondary students. The following provides more details as to how these changes impact the Post-Secondary Sector. The email from March 1 is also found below for your ease of reference for all Step 2a changes to health restrictions. Health is working on updating all guidance documents to better align with all the changes to health measures to date. You will receive an email notifying you of when Post-Secondary Sector guidance documents are posted.

Vaccination Program Updates – March 15th

  • On March 15, Alberta Health released more details about the vaccine roll-out which indicated that: Students undertaking placement practicums in clinical areas (patient care facilities, or providing services directly to clients in the community for Alberta Health Services) will be eligible to book a vaccine in Step 2C. Step 2C is set to commence after Step 2B is complete. We are currently in both Step 1 and Step 2A, with Step 2C estimated to start in sometime between April and June.
  • Students undertaking their practicum, when eligible to book, will need to have pieces of identification that contain date of birth and proof of placement.

Effective as of March 8th, the following restrictions have been lifted with precautions in place:

  • Members of varsity sport teams are now able to participate in indoor and outdoor group lessons, practices and physical conditioning activities for their sport.
    • “Varsity sport” is defined as a sport for which the eligibility requirements for participation are established by a national association for the regulation of intercollegiate athletics, or which is designated as a varsity sport program by a post-secondary institution.
    • Eligible participants can do solo physical activity and group physical activity in indoor settings in groups of up to 10 total individuals, including all coaches, trainers, and participants.
      • A playing surface (for example, arena, field, court or swimming pool) may be occupied by more than one group, as long as 3-metres of physical distancing can be maintained between groups of 10 and the groups do not intermingle or interact.
    • Games are not allowed.
    • Physical distancing must be maintained between participants at all times:
      • 3-metres physical distance for indoor activities
      • 2-metres physical distance for outdoor activities
      • coaches or trainers may enter physical distancing space for brief interactions with participants (for example, to correct form or technique)
    • Participants must be masked at all times when indoors, except during high-intensity training activities. Participants must mask when doing indoor, low-intensity sport activity. Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
    • Access to change rooms must be limited, including accelerated arrival and departure, emergencies (for example, first aid) and washroom use.
    • Please note that there have been previous lifts of restrictions on certain fitness activities (ex. Low intensity activities in Step 2a) and exemptions for certain groups (youth under the age of 18; students in a program of study). These are not to be confused with the additional lift to collegiate, university athletic programs or varsity sports which come with their own set of guidance as listed above. Information all of the types of physical activity that are currently allowed can be found on the website, and will soon be posted in the updated Guidance for Sport, Physical Activity, and Recreation.
  • Individual performers or performance groups (10 participants maximum) of any age can access indoor and outdoor facilities for rehearsals, lessons, filming or broadcasting virtual performances.
    • Individual performers or performance groups (10 participants maximum) can access indoor and outdoor facilities for rehearsals, lessons, filming or broadcasting virtual performances.
    • In-person audiences and spectators are not allowed.
    • Masks are mandatory at all times, except while playing a wind instrument equipped with a cover intended to prevent droplet transmission.
    • 3-metre physical distancing must be maintained at all times indoors, and 2-metre physical distancing outdoors.
    • Larger indoor film and other performances may be allowed subject to an approved plan that follows strict new guidance, including regular lab-based PCR testing, and no audience.
    • Please note, similar to physical activity, post-secondary students and staff participating in performance activities as a part of their post-secondary program of study are able to do this in locations on or off of campus. However, they must maintain 2-metre physical distancing and wear masks in all indoor public places and indoor workplaces.
  • Youth sport and performance are also allowed – with similar limits and precautions as listed above. This means some institutions, at their own discretion, can make their facilities available to support youth sport and performance programming. Operators who do this must follow the current restrictions for youth sport and performance.
    • Youth are defined as under the age of 18.
  • Institutions with facilities that serve as banquet halls, community halls, and/or conference centres can now open for all activities permitted under Step 1 and 2.
    • Virtual meetings, conference and events, with 3 metres’ distancing and masking by all in-person participants. Only the people needed to produce and broadcast the event should attend.
    • Wedding ceremonies up to 10 people.
    • Funeral services up to 20 people.
    • In-person conferences, wedding receptions, funeral receptions and trade shows are not permitted.
  • Institutions that house retail space on their campus must limit customer capacity to 25% (up from 15%) of fire code occupancy (not including staff) or a minimum of 5 customers.
    • Please note: Libraries, as per Step 2a, are able to be open to students, staff and the public, but at a 15% fire code occupancy (not including staff). Step 2b does not change Library capacity.

Please note that fitness and performance activity as a part of a student’s educational programming have been allowed since February 8th. The latest changes impacting the PSE sector apply to people, 18 years or older, that are participating in varsity sports and/or performance activities not related to their educational programming.

Just as with the first phase, Step 2 in our Path Forward is being closely monitored. The best source of information for current updates to public health measures and vaccine roll-out is the following Alberta Government websites:

Effective as of March 1, the following restrictions have been lifted with precautions in place:

  • Libraries, including those on your campuses, are now allowed to be open to the public, students and staff, at a 15% fire code capacity, which does not include staff that work in the library.
    • Anyone can come in to use the computers, browse the library assets, select, borrow and return library materials, or to access support programs onsite.
    • Individual studying and coursework is permitted in libraries.
    • Group activities in the library, other than support programs, (e.g., group instruction, studying, etc.) remain prohibited.
    • All individuals must maintain 2 metres distance from one another at all times, and mask
    • Books and resources that are returned must be quarantined for 72 hours before being returned to the shelves.
  • For institutions that provide indoor fitness activities or space for student and public recreation, you can now allow some types of indoor, individual and group fitness activities, with restrictions:
    • High-intensity indoor physical activity is allowed, but only in a one-on-one training or coaching format. The coach/trainer/instructor must mask and stay 3 metres from the individual they are training, and from all other individuals. The trainee does not have to mask while engaging in high-intensity physical activity.
    • Individuals and groups can do low-intensity physical activity indoors, with or without a trainer. A low intensity activity is one where the intensity of the activity does not result in significantly increased respiration rates in a person. Individuals must stay 3 metres apart from each other and must mask at all times, including during the low-intensity activity.
      • Low-intensity activities include barre, pilates, stretching, tai-chi, low intensity yoga (e.g. hatha, yin), light weightlifting, and indoor rock climbing. Low intensity fitness can also include the use of stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines and similar equipment for the purposes of walking, low revolutions-per-minute activity, or stretching
    • People who cannot mask due to an exception must not be allowed to participate in indoor low-intensity activities.
    • Low intensity physical activities are not allowed in pools or hot tubs due to the impossibility of masking in these environments.
    • All activities must be scheduled or by appointment – no drop-ins allowed.
  • Any individual or household can rent a recreational or entertainment business or entity (as listed in Sections 1 and 3 of Appendix A of CMOH Order 04-2021) for their exclusive use.
  • Please note that fitness activity as a part of a student’s educational programming is still allowed. The latest lift of restrictions allows for more public access to fitness spaces, and only applies if your institution offers access to its fitness and recreation facilities to the general student body and/or public. As a reminder, since February 8th, the following has been allowed for the PSE sector:
    • Indoor gyms, pools, indoor arenas, theatres, concert halls, and all other performance/fitness centres located BOTH on and off campus may open for the following groups and for the purposes of:
      • Students and instructors can access these facilities to participate in indoor group physical or performance activity if it is part of their post-secondary program of study and so long as participation in the activity is limited to the students undertaking that program of study at your institution.
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