Alberta teachers prepare to return to classroom, but with reservations
CALGARY -- Alberta's students appear set to return to in-person learning next Tuesday despite high COVID outbreak numbers traced to schools.
The Alberta Teachers Association says that while educators are keen to finish out the year in the classroom, they have concerns with how the return is being handled.
"When schools went out a couple of weeks ago, 33 per cent of schools had alerts or outbreaks, that number jumped up to 39 per cent and has now dropped to 35 per cent," said ATA President Jason Schilling.
"So our concern is that we will be sending schools back into the same situation that they left."
Nearly 6,500 students and staff are sick with the novel coronavirus, and by the province's count, transmission has occurred in 843 schools.
A statement sent Tuesday by education minister Adriana LaGrange's office said: "Alberta Education is committed to a safe return to in-person learning on May 25th, however we will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments as needed."
During her regular briefing Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health said the decision to send kids home was not a health decision, but based on operation needs.
"The decision to close or the decision to move to online learning was not based on a public health need," Dr Hinshaw said. "It was a decision based on educational considerations."
"I don't believe there to be a public health risk in bringing children back to school."
Schilling said his members were hoping for clear communication from the province quickly so teachers could prepare for the coming week.
"It's not just as easy as saying, 'oh! Everybody back to school on Tuesday, see you there!' There's a lot of planning that goes into it," Schilling said.