(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

ATA calls for immediate government action to address COVID-19 situation in schools

The Alberta Teachers’ Association is calling for more action to address the COVID-19 situation in schools.

In a news release Tuesday, the ATA said they were irritated that no new measures came out of Monday’s emergency management cabinet committee meeting.

“With only about 45 days remaining in the school year, government must take significant steps immediately to protect the viability of in-person learning. Alberta has now surpassed more than 20,000 active cases of COVID-19, with the majority of these cases being variants of concern,” said ATA president Jason Schilling.

“By the end of the week, we will have more people in ICU – a lagging indicator – than we did at the peak in December. The virus has adapted, and yet the government’s plan to protect students and staff largely has not.”

According to the results from a random selection of over 1,700 teachers and school leaders surveyed this past weekend, teachers feel overwhelmingly exhausted, stressed and unhappy.

Schilling said he is worried that the education system right now is on the verge of collapse – either as a result of COVID-19 or as a result of the overburdened school staff.

“The current situation is an unprecedented crisis that if left unaddressed will inevitably result in the shutdown of all schools,” he said.

In addition, the ATA is concerned that Alberta teachers and school staff were left off the priority list of Phase 2 of the province’s vaccination plan.

Schilling also noted that there is a concern about shortage of substitute teachers and school administrators are being inundated with communicating and contact tracing positive cases.