January 18th, 2021

How our community can support a safer return to school

By Letter to the Editor on August 29, 2020.

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen shining examples of our community supporting each other. We have found creative ways to stay connected, provide resources, (re)discovered our love for the outdoors and worked hard to keep life as normal as possible for our families.

We must continue this community focus into the fall as our kids return to school.

We all want what’s best for our kids in terms of education, physical health, mental health and social participation. We are all weathering this storm, but we are not all in the same boat.

Many parents are faced with the horrible choice of 1) sending their child to school and potentially risking the lives of those they are close to (and their own) and 2) ensuring their kids continue to have food to eat and a roof over their heads.

If we really want to be the community that we say we are, let’s work together.

I have an idea.

Some families have more choice than others when it comes to our kids’ schooling attendance this fall. What if those families who can, choose to educate their kids using the online option? Both school divisions in Lethbridge will be dedicating teachers to teach groups of students in an online format. We could build small family cohorts that keep our kids together as a “mini class.” Our kids’ classroom would just be in our kitchens with a few of their classmates. They would work, play and eat together, just like they did at school – just on a smaller scale. This is not a zero-risk option, but a much lower risk option than a classroom of 25-40 kids.

This may free up space in the classrooms to allow for students and teachers to work safer – an option our government has not provided us.

This will build a stronger community while we all receive the support we need in a scary and uncertain time.

This is just an idea to consider as we navigate deep uncertainty. The goal is support families that must send their kids to school during the day and also support families who choose to keep their kids home. No one should be alone in their boat through this storm.

We are stronger when we work together.

Jami Thompson


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