Schools need help with contract tracing: ATA
School administrators need immediate help to perform contact tracing for schools, says the union representing school administrators.
Contact tracing resumed in schools on Oct. 12, but it will take Alberta Health Services until about mid-November to be ready to work with schools.
Jason Schilling, Alberta Teachers’ Association president, said contact tracing was something the province should have never cut in the first place.
“Essentially schools were flying blind at the beginning of September. They had no idea if they had cases in their building, how many cases, except for parents phoning principals to let them know,” Schilling said.
He said staff are spending hours during the week and on the weekend contact tracing.
“Schools need support. It isn’t their job.”
Recently the province also announced that rapid testing will be aimed at kindergarten to Grade 6 schools with outbreaks.
Alberta Teachers’ Association recently sent a letter to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange calling for immediate funding to schools to hire office administrators and substitute teachers to help principals and assistant principals doing contract notification; provide clear policy and procedures around rapid testing that relieves school staff from responsibility for administering or supervising testing; and making it clear to the public that abuse of school staff enforcing government and school board policy will not be tolerated.
“If the government is requiring teachers and school administrators to do this additional work, the very least it can do is provide the support necessary to do it. Teachers and principals are exhausted and do not have the energy or capacity to continue to compensate or cover for the government’s inadequate pandemic response,” the letter said.
Schilling said the province and minister should have provided clear leadership before school resumed instead of downloading all the responsibility onto schools.
“It’s caused confusion and it’s polarized things in a way I’ve never seen in my teaching career, and it’s unfortunate.”