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Coronavirus Update: Parents, teachers worried about class size and vague rules for Alberta’s school reopening plans


Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Classroom controversy: In Alberta, parents and educators express concerns over the province’s school reopening plans, and whether “classrooms could become COVID-19 hot spots”
  2. Love in the time of a pandemic is serious business, and health agencies have started to issue guidelines for lovers who are trying to adjust to the new normal of safe sexual intimacy
  3. The United States recorded around 25,000 COVID-19 deaths in July, with experts warning that deaths will continue to rise in the next few weeks

In Canada, there have been at least 116,597 cases reported. In the last week 2,895 new cases were announced, 17 per cent fewer than the previous week.

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There have also been at least 101,436 recoveries and 8,941 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 4,344,498 tests.

Worldwide, there have been at least 17,591,968 cases confirmed and 679,439 deaths reported

Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus explainers: Updates and essential resourcesCoronavirus in maps and chartsLockdown rules and reopening plans in each province

Photo of the day

Stacey Speta, left, with her husband Kevin Hallman, right, and their sons Anders Hallman, 2, and Bergen Hallman, 4, outside Bergen’s school in Beaumont, Alberta on Friday, July 31, 2020. Speta is concerned about the province’s back to school plan, especially for Bergen who is on the Autism spectrum.

Amber Bracken/The Globe and Mail

Number of the day

29 per cent

Albertan parents are the most likely to keep their kids at home come September, with 29 per cent saying they will not send their kids to school, according to a survey by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies on July 27.

  • With September quickly approaching, provincial governments have started releasing their back-to-school plans. Ontario and Manitoba were the latest provinces to release guidelines for school reopenings, with Ontario being the only jurisdiction so far to require masks for some students.
  • In Alberta, students will return to schools full time with some physical distancing measures in place, such as staggered recess and lunch times. Alberta’s reopening plan has been criticized for not including caps for class sizes.
  • Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta, said that since the guidelines are vague around elements such as cohorting, funding, staffing and managing outbreaks, teachers and parents are feeling uncertain about what the school year will look like for their individual situations.

Coronavirus in Canada

  • The anxiety parents are feeling isn’t unique to Alberta. Parents across the country told reporter Dave McGinn about their fears for the new school year. “I’m terrified,” said Seana Mills, who is the parent of a 11-year-old in Langley, B.C. These worries are pushing parents to find alternative methods of schooling, such as home schooling or private tutoring.
  • Workers in Quebec hold sit-in at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s constituency office to demand permanent residence for asylum seekers working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Now more than ever before, sexual health experts are emphasizing the importance of talking about consent. Canadian health authorities have tried to be as sex positive as possible in their guidelines, taking care not to shame anyone for their sexual practices.
  • Meanwhile, in Ottawa, federal political parties are feeling the financial impact of the pandemic. Elections Canada says there has been a decline in donations to these parties since the COVID-19 outbreak started.

Coronavirus around the world

  • Five states reported record increases in deaths on Friday, as the United States marked around 25,000 COVID-19 deaths during the month of July. Florida is among at least 18 states that saw cases more than double in July. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control warn that deaths will continue to rise in coming weeks, predicting fatalities will rise fastest in Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, Tennessee and Washington state.
  • South Africa has hit 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and experts say that the country still hasn’t hit its peak. The country’s health minister announced 10,107 new cases Saturday, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 503,290, including 8,153 deaths. More than 50 per cent of all cases in Africa’s 54 countries are in South Africa. The African nation, with a population of about 58 million, has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world, behind the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India, all countries with significantly higher populations, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

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