‘School plan is not sufficient for children with diverse needs’: Rally to be held in Red Deer Tuesday

People who are concerned about the province’s return-to-school plan will rally in Red Deer Tuesday.

Hold My Hand Alberta, a movement focusing on the education rights and needs for the province’s vulnerable and diverse learning students, will host the event outside the constituency office of Education Minister Adriana LaGrange (5913 50 Ave.) from 1-3 p.m.

“We will rally outside her Red Deer constituency office to let her know that her back to school plan is not sufficient for children with diverse needs in Alberta,” the Facebook event page said.

Shantel Sherwood, Hold My Hand Alberta spokesperson, said the return-to-school plan doesn’t consider students with neurological issues or other diverse learning needs.

“We have seen a lot of plans come out … and even when the children do come up, it’s maybe two sentences about the plans for them. Our children often have additional needs and disabilities,” she said.

“At the rally you’re going to see students with vision impairment disabilities, hearing impairment disabilities, autism – all these things – and we’re about to go (into the school year) with no (teaching) aides. With all the layoffs that happened back in March, we’re going to be heading in and we don’t know if there’s going to be support.”

Hold My Hand Alberta is asking the government for a number of things, including emotional supports and counsellors available to all children, and for each board to offer an effective at-home learning plan for children with disabilities or complex needs.

School staff and parents are worried about the plan, said Sherwood.

“If you’ve got a child with different disabilities, how this is going to impact them is terrifying. We have children who are often in the hospital, we don’t just represent neurodiverse children, we represent any child with disabilities,” she said.

Precautions, such as mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing, are recommended for Tuesday’s rally.

For more information on the the non-partisan group, visit www.facebook.com/holdmyhandab.



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