June 24th, 2024

ATA president condemns school protests


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 9, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Schools aren’t the appropriate places to protest masks and vaccine mandates, says the Alberta Teachers Association.
Edmonton-based Jason Schilling, who is from southern Alberta, said Tuesday his attention was first caught by a protest outside of a school in this city a couple of weeks ago.
Schilling is asking Alberta’s premier Jason Kenney and Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to unequivocally make clear schools should be off-limits for protests.
The Lethbridge protest started the idea that “there are places where you should be protesting and schools are not one of them,” said Schilling in a phone interview.
The ATA president said there have been several protests across the province.
“The fact of the matter remains community members should not be protesting mask mandates or vaccine mandates that teachers within those buildings have no control over, whether or not those mandates are put in place.
“That’s a government decision so they shouldn’t be protesting at schools,” Schilling added.
He said one school went into lockdown during a protest.
“You have students and teachers who are locked down in classrooms and that’s just not conducive to good learning. It’s scary for some, depending on the age of the student and it’s scary for the staff, as well.”
Those protests contradict the Education Act which makes it illegal to “disturb or interrupt the proceedings of a school” or for people to “conduct themselves in a matter detrimental to the safe operations of a school.”
Shilling said “so parents and other community members who might be doing that need to go to the proper places to do these sort of activities.”
With the potential for the government to soon lift COVID restrictions, Schilling said the ATA has always made sure health protocols and tools are in place to ensure the safety of students and staff so schools can remain open.
“There’s some concern when we start talking about the loosening of restrictions right now because we still have community positivity rates in terms of transmission.” Those rates are often echoed in schools, he said, with January being extremely challenging for teachers, administrators, students and families.
“We want to be able to see the school year finish without a lot of disruption.”

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