David Marsden: Big Education gets a failing grade for its response to COVID-19

We’re told more teachers are the answer

Albertans are told the provincial government has fallen short in responding to the return of students to schools.

They demand our own MLA, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, be held to account.

“More than a week after Alberta students began returning to overcrowded classrooms, LaGrange has failed to appear at any of the briefings, sending her deputy in her place. She has, however, been spotted at several photo-ops in the Edmonton area,” said NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman.

“It’s not acceptable for the education minister to hide from scrutiny while kids go back to school during a pandemic.

“She is responsible for the school system and the decisions she is making, not her deputy, and Albertans have the right to hear her explain why she failed to give schools the resources they need to keep students, staff, families and communities safe.”

LaGrange, a hard-working public servant, is expected to not only be responsible for the education of our children and the curriculum they are taught, but for the activities of everyone beyond the schools’ hallways.

Albertans have a concern for the safety of everyone. The expenditures at all levels of government reflect that.

What we’re seeing in Alberta is the influence of Big Education. The union leaders of the dedicated professionals and staff who operate our schools have spun the tale that conditions could have been better when students went back to school.

They could have been better.

We could have created a cocoon.

COVID-19 doesn’t hide in schools. It isn’t exclusively spread by classmates. It is everywhere.

Big Education has convicted the Alberta government of falling short in its response to the pandemic. We’re told more teachers are the answer.

That’s not true. Even a classroom of one student would create the opportunity for a pupil to show up to class with COVID-19.

All of the students and staff who have tested positive for the virus have contracted it outside of schools.

Big Education is saying that Adriana LaGrange is at fault for young people and their families going about their lives, and coming into contact with the virus.

Big Education doesn’t seem worried about students who gather on the schoolgrounds and ignore the wearing of face masks and social distancing.

Big Education isn’t worried about the spread of the disease in supermarkets and other places frequented by children.

Food stores have dropped the modest COVID-19 pay premium they used to provide. Hard-working store workers interact with shoppers at close distance, often too closely, based on the public health advisories, but there’s no acknowledgement of the risk they face daily.

Hundreds of thousands of working people are going about their jobs as best they can in Alberta, always mindful of the regard we must take for the safety of ourselves and others.

Big Education should do the same thing and put the public good ahead of self interest.

David Marsden is managing editor of the Red Deer Advocate.

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