The province has said school boards have the flexibility to push back school re-entry dates should they deem it necessary.
In doing so, they turned down a request from the Alberta Teachers’ Association to mandate a postponement to after Labour Day (Sept. 7).
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said that she talked with the Alberta Schools Boards Association and the College of Alberta School Superintendents.
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“These partners remain confident, as do I, that the school re-entry plan already provides local school authorities with the autonomy and flexibility to ensure local needs are met and to prepare schools for a safe re-entry,” LaGrange said in a prepared release.
“I have also had the chance to review all the planned re-entry dates for schools across the province, and I see that time is clearly available to allow teachers to prepare for re-entry before their students arrive.”
Last week, the province released outbreak protocol for schools. The ATA said that it still left them with questions on how schooling would continue amid scattered outbreaks.
Meanwhile, Minister LaGrange said that schools boards have the flexibility under the re-entry plan to stagger or delay school start dates.
“These plans and timelines were created by school boards who continue to follow the expert medical advice of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health,” she said.
“I would like to reinforce that I continue to support school boards using this flexibility to adjust their plans if necessary in the coming days as they make preparations for a safe return to school.”
ATA said they value board autonomy
ATA President Jason Schilling said over the weekend that he has no reason to doubt LaGrange’s account of her conversations with education stakeholders.
“School boards value and insist on their autonomy. They have willingly assumed responsibility for school start-up and apparently believe that all necessary arrangements and resources are in place,” Schilling said in a release.
“Teachers want to return to school, but they want to ensure that school is a safe place for themselves and the students they care for. Time is rapidly running out to see this happen.”
Sept. 1 is the start date for Calgary public schools.