Reg Warkentin: Our schools deserve top marks

The education and development of our kids is the most important asset our province has

The importance of getting our kids back to school can’t be understated.

It is absolutely essential to individuals, families, society today and for the well-being of the future generation.

Back in March, when the decision to close down schools was made, there was little known about COVID-19, and much of what the experts thought they knew, such as rates of infection, hospitalization and mortality, turned out to be less than accurate.

With the knowledge at hand, and erring on the side of caution, the decision was made to shut down the public schools and shift towards mass homeschooling.

With very little time to make preparations, parents of kids too young to spend the days home alone were forced to make arrangements to either stay home along with their kids, or pay costly child-care fees.

According to a 2016 survey, the average cost for full-time child care in Alberta is $1,010 per month.

For some, the option to work from home was an attractive solution. Unfortunately, for many types of jobs, as well as businesses and families in central Alberta, working from home was simply not a viable option.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, many were forced to bite the bullet and leave their jobs to care for children, no doubt contributing significantly to the staggering 13 to 14 per cent unemployment rate Red Deer has been hovering around, while disproportionately affecting working mothers.

This was largely a no-win situation, as businesses lost many of their key employees, and the individuals were forced to collect CERB and cut their family budgets accordingly.

It is a tribute to our public school system, its administrators and the teachers, that they were so able to quickly transition to an online environment.

Some students were able to excel in this environment, but many were not, surrounded by distractions such as consoles, television, siblings and neighbourhood friends.

Similarly, congratulations to parents who faced their own trials and tribulations working with their kids to complete coursework and assisting with lessons on subtracting fractions and book reports on Anne Frank.

The efficacy of homeschooling faced reasonable suspicion when it was announced partway through the semester that marks collected from September to March would be utilized if “the kids aren’t engaging.”

In hindsight, this announcement probably wasn’t a great motivator for students struggling or not feeling motivated with the coursework, and has likely resulted in many classrooms this fall spending extra time reviewing or redoing the prior year’s curriculum before they can move forward.

The education and development of our kids is the most important asset our province has. Not just as our children learn the fundamentals of math, science, language and history, but the development they receive participating in the formal structure of a school, socializing with their peers and observing and learning from their teachers as role models of how a civil society functions.

Without being part of this incredibly important experience, our future generation will surely suffer.

Our provincial government, with the support of federal spending and the tireless work of local school boards, administrators, assistants and the teachers, has done an admirable job of managing the risk of COVID and ensuring our kids have a safe place to learn and develop into tomorrow’s leaders.

Reg Warkentin is policy and government affairs manager for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and Roland Gaviola, Iglesia ni Cristo Church of Christ district minister in the Calgary region, stand in front of the 300-plus boxes of donated food at the Red Deer Food Bank Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Food Bank receives big donation from local church

More than 300 boxes of food were donated Saturday

Jason Aquino has been adding to his front lawn Halloween display for the past five years. “I wanted to do it big this year, because even in the pandemic, we can still enjoy Halloween,” says the Red Deer father.
Halloween spookiness rises to new level

Rare astronomical occurrence caps off a strange holiday

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

Advocate file photo
Man awaiting murder trial facing two new trials for breaching release conditions

Quentin Strawberry going to trial in March in connection with 2019 murder

Ecole La Prairie students and teachers dressed up in Halloween costumes and paraded by Barrett Kiwanis Place, while waving at the building’s residents in Red Deer on Friday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Ecole La Prairie students parade in Halloween costumes for Red Deer seniors

Dozens of Red Deer students put on their Halloween costumes to spread… Continue reading

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

A costumed trick or treater turns after being given candy during Halloween celebrations in Toronto, on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Families across the country have assembled their costumes and stockpiled their candy to celebrate a Halloween that is -- hopefully -- unlike any other. Public health restrictions to protect against COVID-19 vary depending on the region, but most officials have given trick-or-treating the go-ahead.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Families prepare for pandemic-era Halloween with public health restrictions in place

TORONTO — Canadians may be putting the final touches on their costumes… Continue reading

Indigenous fishermen adjust lines on their boat in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan
N.S. Mi’kmaq chiefs demand stop of alleged federal plans to seize lobster traps

HALIFAX — The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs is alleging the… Continue reading

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs speaks in Ottawa on Thursday, December 7, 2017. Dumas says he's concerned about the growing number of COVID-19 cases First Nation communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
The family of Allan Landrie, shown in a family handout photo, is disappointed the Saskatchewan Coroners Service isn’t considering an inquest into the 72-year-old's hospital death. Landrie's death in September 2019 was ruled a suicide. More than three days had passed before his body was discovered locked in a hospital bathroom in Saskatoon. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
‘He was so sick,’ says daughter of Saskatoon man who committed suicide in hospital

Allan Landrie’s body was discovered three days after his death

Supporters listen as Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously

FLINT, Mich. — Calling Joe Biden his “brother,” Barack Obama on Saturday… Continue reading

ll
Imagining the origins of Halloween

Long ago and far away, a small assemblage of English people gathered… Continue reading

Red Deer College president Peter Nunoda. (Photo by contributed)
Peter Nunoda: Winter term will be busier on RDC campus

In my column last month, I shared details about Red Deer College’s… Continue reading

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie "The Name of the Rose" at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

He died peacefully in his sleep overnight in the Bahamas

Most Read