The Alberta Teachers Association is speaking out after at least three Lethbridge schools – Park Meadows Elementary, Westminster Elementary and Mike Mountain Horse Elementary – declared outbreaks of respiratory illness in the past 10 days.
That means that at least ten percent of students are absent due to respiratory illness, which can include COVID-19.
As five- to eleven-year-olds continue to lead the province in case rates, Alberta Teachers Association President Jason Schilling says there are concerns about the possibility of bringing lessons online.
Students return to school in Lethbridge
“The concern I’ve heard from people is that we are going to repeat the challenges and difficulties of last year,” Schilling said. “We shouldn’t be doing that and we shouldn’t be in that situation.”
While those three Lethbridge schools are currently continuing in-person learning, five schools in the province have been approved to move online.
On Thursday, with some schools moving home, Medical Director of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said there will be changes to the province’s COVID-19 reports.
At this time, if a school meets that 10 percent threshold, it must notify Alberta Health Services.
“We are working with the ministry of education. We know that the changes we had to make over the past week in our response to COVID-19 must be taken into account when determining the final framework for our reports, ”Hinshaw said.
2 Lethbridge School Districts Announce Different Back-to-School Plans
One change Schilling says needs to be made is a return to contact tracing by the province, which was not included in the August back-to-school plan.
“They need to get this contact tracing regime back so that schools have that basic health information and the government needs to do it,” Schilling said.
“This is not a job of the schools, the principals (or) the teachers.”
As for when the changes will be made, Hinshaw promised “soon.”
The Holy Spirit Catholic Schools Division currently has two schools with a 10 percent absenteeism rate, St. Catherine in Picture Butte, Alta., And St. Joseph in Coaldale, Alta.
Neither the Holy Spirit nor the Lethbridge School Division were available for comment Friday.
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