May 21st, 2024

Phillips challenges LaGrange on school safety plan


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 8, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips is calling on Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to stake her job on her Omicron school safety plan.
“If thousands of students are sent home again because of this government’s refusal to step up, then the minister must step down,” said Phillips.
During an online press conference on Friday, Phillips voiced her concerns about the lack of preventive measures against the spread of Omicron taken by the provincial government, prior to Alberta students heading back to the classrooms on Monday Jan. 10. and said is not too late to take action.
“There are zero new initiatives to support their learning and protect them from the rapid spread of Omicron at this point. Alberta parents in particular, school staff, educators and even school children themselves are beyond disappointed,” said Phillips.
Phillips added that most of all they are angry at a government that refuses to do the right thing.
“As an MLA, as a legislator and as a parent trying to make decisions for my own kids, I share in their frustration and anger,” said Phillips.
Phillips said kids deserve better than watching the minister make the same mistakes over and over again.
“Just look at where we were in September at the height of the fourth wave, at a time when other provinces like Ontario and British Columbia started installing HEPA filters and increasing air ventilation and filtration in schools, the UCP kicked off back to school in Alberta with no new support and we had the worst fourth wave in Canada,” said Phillips.
Phillips recalled when LaGrange was in charge of the health care system and did nothing while cases exploded in August and September.
“The result of her incompetence of fumbling two portfolios instead of just one was disastrous. Alberta saw cases explode, outbreaks or alerts were reported at more than 700 schools within the first month of classes returning and now she’s repeating the same mistakes over again,” said Phillips.
Phillips said that LaGrange is doing virtually nothing while sending kids into schools with even higher rates of infection circulating throughout the community.
“It didn’t have to be this way, it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Phillips.
She said kids need to be in school to be able to challenge themselves in the classroom, they need to be able to ask questions and have support from teachers and educational assistants.
They need to be active in their school community with that social contact and development with their friends and their peers, because that supports their learning development and mental health.
“No one wants to see schools closed. The parents and school staff that I have spoken to want more rapid tests, better masks, improved ventilation, better mental health supports and more substitute teachers moved on to contract to backfill vacancies,” said Phillips.
She added these measures are being taken in other Canadian provinces like Ontario and British Columbia but the UCP have implemented none of them. She said it defies all logic and fails the basic responsibility entrusted to them by Albertans to do everything in their power to keep children safe and healthy and in school.
“When the UCP closed schools in November of 2020 there were 1155 new cases that day, when the UCP closed schools in may of 2021 there were 1980 new cases that day, now UCP is reopening schools on Monday and our current daily case number is 4869 and they’re doing this action on January 10th without any of the protections that other Canadian students are getting,” said Phillips.
Phillips believes that by doing nothing the UCP and the education minister are leading the province to a situation where it is very likely schools will close again.
“School boards have told us that this is pretty much inevitable because the government refuses to plan,” said Phillips.
She said Alberta students and parents deserve accountability and it is time the Minister of Education showed some accountability.

Follow @APulidoHerald on Twitter

Share this story:

4
-3
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
buckwheat

So another “demand”. How is this, parents have a choice to home school their children. All that is required is that they notify the school at the start of a semester and home school for the full semester. Simple, home school yours. This is the usual union fight disguised as politicking by the MLA. Yawn.

IMO

Exactly how do you envision that home schooling is a valid choice for EVERY family in Alberta? How will single working parents manage this? How will the working poor manage this? What do you recommend for rural families without reliable internet access or abysmal cell phone service? How is school safety in the midst of a pandemic a “usual union fight disguised as politicking?”