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Red Deer Public Schools wait for more on COVID-19 protocols from province

Parent protests expected across Alberta
Red Deer Public Schools is waiting for further direction from the province on how to address COVID-19 when classes start in the fall. (Screenshot from Red Deer Public School video)

Red Deer Public Schools is waiting for more direction from the province in regards to COVID-19, but the district will ultimately create its own plan for the new school year.

“All of us are hoping to return back to normal. But we will be responsive to whatever the conditions are and make sure that the health and wellness of our students and our staff and our families is guiding all of our decisions,” said Bruce Buruma, the district’s community relations director.

Earlier this week the province announced that masks won’t be required in schools, isolation will not be mandatory for those who test positive starting Aug. 16, and quarantine for close contacts has come to an end.

Buruma said the district is waiting for specific directions following the province’s recommendations. More information is expected by mid-August.

He said for the past 18 months Red Deer Public has been responsive to both families and the province when it comes to COVID-19.

“People do need to recognize that the Alberta Education and Alberta Health Services are going to be providing us with directions. Then we will follow those directions with a made-in Red Deer Public Schools plan.”


Alberta to drop mandatory COVID-19 isolation for positive cases on Aug. 16

On July 30, Support Our Students Alberta was holding rallies in Edmonton and Calgary to protest the province’s decisions to remove COVID-19 restrictions.

Communications director Wing Li said the protests are just starting and the group is looking for organizers in Red Deer and other communities.

She said parents are panicked.

“It feels like you have to choose between your kid’s education or them being safe. That’s not a good choice to have. It’s not fair,” Li said.

“We all want school to be normal. But we also can’t deny the reality of the global situation, opening borders and our own cases going up right now.”

She said Support Our Students wants government to maintain and prioritize testing, tracing and notification for at least kindergarten to Grade 6 students.

“Information is so important for parents, just to know if someone was infectious in class, at least you can be aware and make decisions accordingly.”

She said there is no data on the long-term health consequences of COVID or any disability that may arise.


COVID-19 impacting Red Deer schools

Buruma said Red Deer Public dealt with about 9,000 COVID isolations of staff and students. Returning to as normal as possible is best for students, but COVID is a dynamic situation.

“The health and wellness of our staff and our students of course are the most important thing. We will take all the steps that we are reasonably able to do to make that happen,” Buruma said.

“Since the spring we have been working on a COVID recovery plan focused on learning, as well the mental health and supports that students need to be successful.”

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