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Some Calgary parents uncomfortable with Alberta’s school re-entry plan

Some Calgary parents aren’t confident the province’s school re-entry plan has their child’s safety in mind.

The Alberta government announced its school re-entry plan June 10, with a target of a “near normal” return to in-person classes.

There is a focus on hand hygiene, increased cleaning of high touch surfaces and stricter enforcement of people entering schools if they’re displaying symptoms. The province will make a final decision on re-entry August 1.

Jennifer Crawford, a parent to a student at the Westmount charter school, believes there could be more to the province’s motives than student and teacher safety. 

“I question whether or not the plan truly considers the safety of students and teachers,” she said.

“How much of that plan is about the economy at the expense of students and teachers?”

Crawford hopes the province is ready to pivot their efforts if an outbreak occurred in schools this fall. 

“It seems like the Alberta government is very optimistic,” she said.

“I hope that they’ll be able to pivot in August, if they realize their optimism was unfounded.”

ASCA’s support for Alberta’s re-entry plan

Brandi Rai, president of the Alberta School Councils’ Association released a statement June 10. They support the province’s school re-entry plan for this fall.

“The Alberta School Councils’ Association is pleased that considerations for the safety of students and staff remain priorities throughout this detailed plan,” Rai wrote.

“We look forward to ongoing work and communications with the ministry, as this is key for successful implementation and return to school.”

The ASCA conducted a survey used to support the province’s re-entry plan. In which more than 65,000 Alberta parents participated in, from both private and public school sectors.

For public schools, they asked: Are you in favour of a return to school plan for K-12 students in September?

Of the 65,631 total responses, 56,276 or 86 percent of respondents were in favour of the re-entry plan. 9,355 or 14 percent of respondents answered they aren’t. 

The ASCA survey requires participants to be identified in the survey results. Crawford wasn’t comfortable with that so she declined to participate, she believes more parents feel the same way.

“I filled it out and when I got to the bottom and saw that I had to identify myself. I thought as a professional person in the community, could I do that?” Crawford said.

“When you tell people they have to be identified explicitly, not can you list your school division or can you list your school. Then you may have had some reluctance to answer.”

Private school concern about public education re-entry

Bill Litousky, president of the Edge School parent council and a parent to children in both private and public education sectors, feels more confident in the private school approach to school re-entry than the pubic.

Edge School is a private school specifically for student athletes.

“I feel very comfortable with my child going back to school at Edge,” he said.

“I feel very strongly that the [Edge] school has responded to the pandemic and is actually prepared ahead of time the options that are ahead of them.”

As for the public school system, Litousky isn’t as confident. 

“I’m probably a little bit more leery just because of the number of kids that are in the public system and how they’re going to be able to distance in any setting like that,” he said. 

“That’s probably my main concern as a parent.” 

Like other parents, Litousky feels some concern in the Alberta government’s approach to school re-entry.

“Am I totally comfortable with it?  At Edge, probably I wouldn’t say 100 percent, but I would in the high 80’s and 90’s,” said Litousky.

“Whereas in the public schools, I would say probably in the 50’s.”