By Letter to the Editor on August 7, 2020.
Despite their back-to-school announcement recently, it’s worth noting that Alberta’s government didn’t actually make a decision. In the final analysis, they simply downloaded the decision onto parents. And now parents are caught between a rock and a hard place.
The announcement stated that schools will resume in September more or less as they were before the pandemic caused the big shutdown. And according to the CBC, “No new funding from the provincial government has been allocated to schools for the additional costs associated with adapting to the pandemic.”
There is no reason to believe children will be safe at school. Infection rates are spiking, often due to gatherings. Even though teachers, educational assistants, and administrators will be hardworking and diligent, without extra measures and increased funding how can they reduce risk? And then what happens if the teachers start falling ill?
If you feel the hazard is too great, you don’t have to send your child to school. The Lethbridge School Division has informed parents of “an at-home learning option,” created by the same teacher who will have students in-class, which “will include online delivery of core courses and the potential of some option courses.”
At first glance, this is “at-home” option is good news for concerned families. On second thought, this is essentially online home schooling, which increases the burden on over-anxious, over-worked parents. And it assumes that all families have the means or opportunity for their children to be at home with a responsible adult and reliable technology. And it demands that our teachers deliver engaging face-to-face and online instruction, two very different and demanding tasks.
We’re not criticizing the Lethbridge School District, which we know to be staffed with dedicated, hard-working people. The issue is with the Conservative provincial government. Lethbridge is potentially facing a looming crisis of spiking infection rates because Kenney’s Conservatives are ducking responsibility with their non-plan.
Classrooms can be reimagined for a safer September. The NDP has an alternative plan estimated to cost about $1 billion – and that’s not cheap. However, Alberta’s UCP government would invest that much on a length of pipeline without a second thought. Surely we can all agree that investment in education during a pandemic is an investment in everyone’s safety and future.
Jacob Bachinger and