Posted on Jan 4, 2022

HEPA Filters, Mental Health Support, and more Teachers: NDP Presents Plan to make Schools Safer Amid Rapid Omicron Spread

The Alberta NDP is proposing new measures to ensure students are safe and protected when they return to the classroom, as the rapid spread of Omicron continues to impact Alberta schools.  

Last week, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the back-to-school would be postponed to January 10th while presenting no new plan for addressing staffing challenges or mitigating the risk of in-school transmission. The UCP must make a broader commitment to ensuring student safety.

The Alberta NDP is proposing a series of measures including greater public reporting, new mental health supports and increased focus on mitigating airborne spread of COVID-19 by installing High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) purifiers and monitoring airflow through the use of carbon-dioxide detectors.

Students have been sent home at least four times now with almost no notice, and many more times at some schools. This throws families into chaos every time. In order to reopen Alberta schools next week and keep them open safely through the school year, the government must do more than dump the problem onto school districts and hope for the best. We need action. - Rachel Notley


The Alberta NDP’s six-point plan includes the following measures to keep schools safe:

  1. Public reporting of the infection and absentee rate of school staff, providing Albertans with a picture as to whether schools will be forced to close again due to a lack of staff.
  2. Immediate funding to move substitute teachers onto contract for the remainder of the school year to help backfill staffing levels and to hire additional substitute teachers where possible. 
  3. Provide N95 masks for staff and students. Medical professionals continue to point out that N95 masks offer the best protection against airborne spread of COVID-19. 
  4. Install HEPA filters—or High Efficiency Particulate Air filters—in schools to reduce the risk in confined spaces, as well as carbon dioxide detectors to measure how effectively a school’s ventilation system is refreshing the air in a classroom.
  5. Hire mental health counsellors for every Alberta school to support students dealing with stress, isolation, and uncertainty that impacts their learning.
  6. Create an Alberta Learn-at-Home fund to support families when their kids are forced to stay home. The fund would provide $500 per student and $750 per student with complex needs.

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Karen Green


COVID in schools: Absolute yes to #s 1,3,4. Feel less strongly about the others. Mental health professionals should meet some minimum criteria with respect to training.

Jenn Minsos


How many teachers coud be hired, and how many schools built if you stopped funding private/catholic/charter schools? The boutique of education is forming educational ‘ghettos’ and the continued funding of Catholic Schools contributes to this. If you just rip the bandaid off, no one in the end will care except the people that will never vote NDP anyway. Thank you. (And get rid of Covenant Health while you are at it) Dr J Minsos



I thought covid is not airborne so how would a HEPA filter be very effective? It is for airborne viruses/diseases but with covid I am not sure. Transmision of covid is by passing on saliva/fluids that's why mask and social distancing is working to slow the spread, is there a HEPA filter designed for that?



I have 4 children. My 11yo has been online since the pandemic began. I had planned to put him back in school but because of Kenney's disastrous covid mismanagement I'm keeping him online. The lack of masking, contact tracing, Hepa Filters, and low vaccination rate in this age group are a few examples. He's fully vaccinated. My 15yo and my 13yo are fully vaccinated and were in school until now. I have kept them home this week because schools have been opened with no health measures in place aside from vague promises. Cases are rapidly rising in their schools and my son now has 2 friends who are covid positive who have been going to school. I don't want to keep them home but I want them to be as safe as possible and Kenney has not done anything to protect children. I'm afraid of the kids bringing covid home. I don't want my children to deal with the prospect of LHC. My children's education is suffering right now but I had to choose between playing catchup with their education or possibly a lifelong disability. I am in a group on Facebook and have talked with other parents who are keeping their kids out of school to try to protect them. It shouldn't be this way. My son is upset as he is missing Formative work but I don't feel I have a choice. My other teen is ok staying home. She's not happy and misses her friends but she is worried about bringing covid home to our family. This is an unfair burden on children. My oldest is 17 and graduates this year. She plans to be an Orthopedic surgeon and has been accepted at 2 Universities. I let her go to school because she needs the best grades she can but she is absolutely terrified she will bring covid home too. It didn't have to be this way. Out of everyone in Alberta, Jason Kenney has let the children, Alberta's children down the most.