Calgary parents refuse to instill fear of COVID-19 in their children with return to school

The Calgary Board of Education. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

Some Calgary parents are optimistic about the government’s plan to send kids back to school this fall – with appropriate measures in place. 

On July 21, 2020, Premier Jason Kenney and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced that 750,000 students will be able to return to school this September.

It will be a near-normal return to in-person classes, something that has had some parents concerned about potential spread of COVID-19.

Karen Watt, a mother of three, feels fairly comfortable about sending her youngest son, 15, back to high school in September. Her son is a student at Robert Thirsk High School.

“A high school in Calgary is going to operate a lot different from a high school in rural Alberta, so, I think they would have to have different parameters in place. I think it’s tricky too, for a province, as diverse and as large as Alberta to have one blanket way of doing things,” she said.

“I do think the city schools should operate a little bit differently.”

While announcing the winter festival on Monday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi talked about having improved measures to control spread.

“I believe personally that we should be wearing masks in schools, particularly in the hallways, coming in and coming out of the schools,” he said. 

Watt said that she is going to teach her son that when he goes back to school, he has to follow the advice. 

“If your school wants you to wear a mask, then you wear a mask. You do whatever it takes, and you listen to the authority,” she said. 

“This isn’t the time to be all up in arms; this is a time to work together and be compliant.”

7 to 8 on a scale of comfortability

For Garima Desai, mother of two, the feeling is a bit different.

“I am not in favor of masks, especially when it comes to kids,” she said. 

Desai believes that the masks come with their own risks.

“Ideally when you have to wear masks, you should not be touching it in the front with your hands. They (kids) would not follow it to the T and they would keep the mask on random surfaces,” she said

“So, I would rather not be in favour of making masks compulsory for the kids.”

Despite this, Desai is not so reluctant in sending her daughter to the school. 

“If I quantified on the scale of one to 10 in terms of comfortability, I’m somewhere (around) seven to eight,” she said.

Her daughter is a student at Renert School and is currently going to a summer camp organized by the school. The summer camp has also been taking safety measures like self-screening questionnaires. 

 The province’s K to 12 school re-entry plan includes reviewing the questionnaire each day before entering the school building. 

Amid all ongoing measures being put in place, parents also feel that it’s important to be more pragmatic right now. 

“I am trying to balance things without fear. I don’t want fear to be what propels me forward,” said Watt.

Watt does not want to instill fear in her children either. 

“But, I also feel that common sense has to prevail and you can’t just throw caution to the wind.”

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