Lacombe Safe September protesters chalked the walk outside MLA Orr’s office

  • Aug. 24, 2020 10:30 a.m.
Darrin Thompson’s 8-year-old daughter will go to school this fall despite concerns.. Photo by Jessica Nelson/Lacombe Express
Photo by Jessica Nelson/Lacombe Express
About 15 people attended the Safe September protest in Lacombe on Aug. 21. Photo by Jessica Nelson/Lacombe Express
The colourful messages addressed concerns about re-entry plans, funding and large class sizes. Photo by Jessica Nelson/Lacombe Express
Photo by Jessica Nelson/Lacombe Express

Protesters chalked their concerns outside of MLA Orr’s office in support of teachers and EAs Friday.

The sidewalk chalk protest was initiated by a grassroots group called Safe September. Safe September is advocating for just that, a safe September for everyone involved in back-to-school.

Myles Chykerda, who helped organize the Lacombe chapter of the province-wide event, said the protest is about concerns the UCP isn’t listening too. He says they aren’t properly prepared for schools to relaunch.

“They’ve had five months to plan for relaunch and teachers are getting two masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer, essentially,” said Chykerda.

Chykerda said there were around 30 protests happening in various ridings across the province.

“Today is definitely about supporting our teachers and EAs for a safe relaunch,” he said.

Darrin Thompson, a protester, is hesitant about sending his child back to school. He is concerned the government isn’t doing enough.

“We are hoping that the government will actually listen to the experts and delay the opening, or do something that will make it safer,” said Thompson. “But we are doing the best we can.”

Earlier this week, Minister of Education Adrianna LeGrange met with the Alberta Teachers Association to discuss school re-entry. One of their requests was to delay the start date of school.

In an emailed statement LeGrange said school boards have the ability to delay or stagger start dates based on their local best interest. She also said after reviewing planned re-entry dates, she sees, “that time is clearly available to allow teachers to prepare for re-entry before their students arrive.”

“These plans and timelines were created by school boards who continue to follow the expert medical advice of Alberts’s chief medical officer of health,” said LeGrange.

The Wolf Creek School Division states, in their school re-entry plan, that start dates will be staggered to allow students to become familiarized with new protocols.

The Board has also sent out the results from a survey about parent’s prefered education options. Of the 3,594 responses; 78.6 per cent would prefer in-person learning, 5.9 per cent prefer virtual, 1.7 per cent will be homeschooling, and 14.7 per cent are undecided.

For parents who choose in-person learning, the provincial back-to-school rules, state students from Grades 4-12 will be required to wear a face mask. Masks will be optional for the younger grades.

Schools will be providing two masks for each student. Hand sanitizer will be available at the entry and exit points of each school and students are required to use it. Each individual class will be considered a cohort under this plan.

Altogether about f15 people showed up for the protest in Lacombe.

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