CALGARY -- The province says it's sticking to its schedule when it comes to students returning to class this fall.

That was the word Friday afternoon, when Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange issued a statement, saying "the school re-entry plan already provides local school authorities with the autonomy and flexibility to ensure local needs are met and to prepare schools for a safe re-entry."

Alberta Teacher's Association (ATA) president Jason Schilling responded Friday via social media, saying, "I am hearing daily from principals and teachers across the province saying they need time. Time together as a staff to discuss and implement COVID protocols. School Districts and Superintendents must now allow and demonstrate for that time."

"It is clear," he added, in a tweet, "that parents and members of the public now must take their concerns to their duly elected school trustees. We will continue to fight for principals, teachers and our students."

LaGrange met earlier this week with  Schilling, who earlier this month described the province's re-entry plan as "unacceptable."

"Teachers are worried," Schilling said. "And they do not have confidence in the (education) minister (Adriana LaGrange) or her plans to reopen schools.  They made it clear they expect the minister to be talking with the ATA and listening genuinely to the concerns of teachers."

After listening during a Wednesday meeting, LaGrange said she was satisfied the re-entry can proceed as planned.

ATA meeting

"I have also had the chance to review all the planned re-entry dates for schools across the province, and I see that time is clearly available to allow teachers to prepare for re-entry before their students arrive," she said.

"These plans and timelines were created by school board, who continue to follow the expert medical advice of Alberta's chief medical officer of health."

LaGrange also indicated there was some leeway available for individual school boards to make adjustments to the re-entry dates as they saw fit.

"I continue to support school boards using this flexibility to adjust their plans if necessary in the coming days as they make preparations for a safe return to school," she stated.

Jason Schilling