(Black Press file photo).

(Black Press file photo).

NDP’s education critic praised Red Deer school boards for protecting students

Sarah Hoffman said provincial government leadership is lacking

Red Deer’s school boards have put the safety of their students first in the absence of leadership from the UCP government, says the NDP’s education critic.

Critic Sarah Hoffman reacted to Red Deer Public and Catholic School Districts implementing mandatory masking policies when the provincial government refused to set a blanket policy for Alberta schools, instead leaving this polarizing decision up to individual school boards.

“The UCP government has completely abandoned students and failed to lead during the pandemic,” said Hoffman.

“They have done nothing to control the spread of COVID in schools. In fact, they’ve even removed protections for students and acted like it will be a normal year even as we face a rising fourth wave.”

Despite this lack of leadership, “many school boards have stepped up to implement measures to limit the spread of COVID. I would like to thank them for putting the health and safety of kids first as Education Minister Adriana LaGrange continues to fail her constituents and all Alberta students,” she added.

Following the province’s latest masking rules for indoor public spaces, both Red Deer school districts decided students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 will have to wear masks on buses, in all common areas in school buildings — but not necessarily in classrooms if they are front facing and seated in rows.

On Tuesday, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange’s office stated that provincial guidance was made available to school boards in June, so they could begin planning. “Additional guidance was also provided in the middle of August. This (was) based on the expert medical advice of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and has not changed since school started.

“Local school authorities continue to have the ability and the corresponding accountability to choose to put in place additional measures, such as masking, that exceed provincial guidance… Trustees are ultimately accountable to their constituents and the decisions they make.”

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