Three Alberta universities extend online courses to late February due to COVID-19

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s big three research universities are extending online learning because the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly.

The University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge say virtual classes will continue for another six weeks.

Students who have been online since returning from the holiday break are to return to their campuses on Feb. 28.

The universities say data shows that infections driven by Omicron are continuing to rise and won’t peak until late January or early next month.

The schools say that makes it prudent to extend online classes until after the spring break in late February.

The Opposition says the provincial government should take responsibility for not providing the resources all schools needed to prepare for a COVID-19 surge, including high-quality N95 masks, rapid tests and air quality audits and upgrades.

Alberta has nearly 63,000 active cases — the highest since the pandemic began — but chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says that number is likely to be 10 times higher because testing for the virus at labs is no longer open to everyone.

The Canadian Press

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