Alberta's students in kindergarten to Grade 12 will face an extended winter break, Alberta's Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in an impromptu press conference today.
Students set to return to school in person next week will now face a return to school a week later, on Jan. 10, LaGrange said, adding the province needs enough time to provide additional rapid tests and masks to schools.
LaGrange said the lengthier break will "support a successful return to school and provide additional planning time."
She apologized for the inconvenience to parents and families, but said the delay is necessary due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The province is set to deliver 8.6 million rapid tests and 16.5 million masks to schools to assist with the safe return to classes.
January diploma exams for high school students have been canceled.
"With the COVID situation rapidly evolving, so, too, must our response," said LaGrange.
In the meantime, school authorities plan to use the extended winter break to prepare for both in-person and at-home learning scenarios.
The announcement Thursday comes after the province broke its single-day record for COVID-19 cases, with an estimated 4,000 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta in more than 24 hours.