ATA recommends delay in start of school year in meeting with LaGrange
CALGARY -- The Alberta Teachers Association is suggesting delaying the start of the school year until after Labour Day following a Wednesday meeting with Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange.
ATA president Jason Schilling made the proposal in a face-to-face meeting late Wednesday afternoon with LaGrange, after the ATA issued a seven-point plan for a safe return to schools.
Chief among those were the belief that the current plan doesn't allow for proper social distancing in larger classes containing 30 to 40 students.
Schilling said teachers don't have confidence in the plan to return to class, and want the province to take more of a regional approach to reopening, meaning crowded schools should split some classes up to allow for increased spacing.
The ATA also requested additional funding be provided to put substitute teachers on contract, and to add support staff and cleaning supplies, said Schilling.
"I asked about when would you be making some decisions about the things that we talked about today," Schilling said, afterward, in a press release. "They need to go back and consider what we said...they will need to talk to other organizations such as school boards and superintendents about this idea of pushing back the (start of) the school year.
"I expect they will work on these seriously over the next couple of days and that we'll hear very soon."
In a statement, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said she was happy to meet with the ATA, but maintained that the province's plan received approval from Alberta health officials including Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
"We understand that parents and teachers across the province want a safe return to classes in the fall," she said. "That is why we will continue to follow the expert medical advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health, who approved our school re-entry plan and who, along with her team, worked to develop the health guidelines for schools. The plan also has support from our school superintendents and school boards and was developed in consultation with the education system as a whole."