Alberta teachers say they are deeply concerned about the lack of provisions to protect students from COVID-19.
With the province easing COVID protocols, president Jason Schilling with Alberta Teachers’ Association said there is serious concern for the safety of vulnerable students and teachers as they prepare to return to class.
“All elementary students and half of secondary students remain unvaccinated. This is an incredibly large group of children left vulnerable, especially with the number of variant cases rapidly growing in Alberta,” Schilling said.
“The government’s elimination of routine testing, tracing and isolation protocols will leave students, parents and staff working blind to the exposure risk that could exist in classrooms. Clear and transparent information on the status of this virus in our community is a cornerstone of our ability to protect students.”
ATA has released a comprehensive report outlining the basic measures necessary for a positive return for the 2021/22 school year. It includes nine recommendations to address COVID-related challenges, and stresses the continuing need for funded improvements to air filtration systems in the majority of schools.
Schilling said that discussions need to be had with the government and education stakeholders to examine these challenges and the impacts that the pandemic has had on the learning and wellness needs of students.
“Teachers’ voices cannot be cut out. Meaningful discussions need to happen with the minister, and quickly. The return-to-school plan released by the government last June was severely lacking in detail. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”