EDMONTON - Support Our Students (SOS) Alberta, with support from Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL), have released an easy-to-use letter writing tool at www.safeschoolsAB.ca for parents and community members to write to their provincial Member of Legislative Assembly or School Board Trustee. With school starting in less than two weeks, Alberta’s students need Swiss-cheese layers of protection to ensure equitable and safe access to education. Moreover, education workers should be protected in their workplaces. Rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 in the province, especially of the Delta variant, and low vaccination rates threaten the sustainability of in-person learning. Combined with the fact that children under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccination, government must prioritize mitigation of spread and infection in schools. We must avoid the same tumultuous roller coaster of school closures that we witnessed last school year.
The online tool will be available for Albertans throughout the province, featuring a database of all MLAs, and every public, separate and francophone school board trustees and superintendents.
The tool will generate letters demanding the provincial government:
1) Reinstate Alberta Health Services notification, contact tracing, and reporting of school cases (including open reporting of outbreaks in schools)
2) Implement province-wide mandatory masking for pre-K to Grade 12
3) Directly fund portable filtration units and CO2 monitors to assess air quality in classrooms
Also, the tool will generate letters requesting school boards to:
1) Implement mandatory masking for pre-K to Grade 12
2) Install portable filtration units (plus ventilation assessments as previous guidelines pre-date COVID-19 pandemic)
3) Maintain cohorting and physical distancing
“Through years of chronic underfunding, plus deferred infrastructure updates, Alberta’s public schools need to be equipped with immediate and long-term mitigation measures to ensure every student can access a safe learning environment. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has amplified education inequities and now more than ever we need to prioritize students.” – Medeana Moussa, Executive Director, Support Our Students
“The Kenney government is abdicating its responsibility to protect students and education staff in the fourth wave of the pandemic. That’s why we’re supporting SOS with this new online tool. We simply can’t allow 400,000 of our unvaccinated kids to go back to school without adequate protections. Albertans need to demand leadership and funding from the province. And if the province is going to persist in downloading responsibility to school boards, then we need to make sure trustees know what needs to be done: and that means mandatory masking; and CO2 monitors and air filtration in every classroom.” Gil McGowan, President, Alberta Federation of Labour
Support Our Students Alberta is a non-profit citizens’ action group advocating for universally accessible and equitable public education in Alberta.
Alberta Federation of Labour is the largest worker advocacy group in Alberta, representing approximately 170,000 workers from 29 affiliated unions.