Alberta Teachers Association and Lethbridge parents react to province's back-to-school plan
Parents and school officials have mixed feelings about Tuesday's announcement that students will be back in classrooms this fall.
LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- The province’s Tuesday announcement sending students back to school in the fall is creating mixed feelings for at least one parent.
“I know my kids are struggling not being able to see their friends and their teachers. But at the same time we want everyone to be safe,” said Hope Rudics. “So there are a lot of questions that haven’t been answered for us.”
Health measures will include the cleaning of high-touch surfaces, having hand sanitizer at entrances to schools and classrooms, and grouping students in cohorts. Distancing will also be done, which could include staggering start times for classes, recesses, and lunches. Some schools are also replacing water fountains with water bottle filling stations.
“With this (decision) comes tremendous responsibility to ensure school are disinfected,” said Holy Spirit School Division Superintendent Ken Sampson.
Schools will need to allocate funds from other areas to prevent the spread,
“The impact that it has had on our school division financially has been to take the money out of plant operations, which takes care of your buildings and have to put that into things like PPE and screens and masks,” said Lethbridge School Division Superintendent Cheryl Gilmore.
The province has committed roughly $120 million to schools across Alberta and given the green light for school boards to use reserves funds if needed. Alberta Teachers Association representatives say there’s a lot of pandemic left.
“We need to make sure that the plan is funded appropriately in the long haul so that supplies that are needed in the school are procured,” said ATA President Jason Schilling.
There are also questions surrounding safety concerns for students, staff, and administrative workers.
“How do we social distance appropriately when you have 30 students in a class?” asked Schilling.
The province has not put a cap on class sizes.
Per the province’s outline, if there were an outbreak in a community or school those affected would transition into a partial in-class or at-home learning scenario.