‘It’s not working’: renewed calls to change Omicron School’s strategy as more classes move online
A doctor, the NDP and the Alberta Teachers’ Association renewed their concerns about COVID-19 in Alberta schools on Tuesday as the Omicron infection continued to send more staff and students home. them.
Since the return on January 10, approximately 190 classes from schools in Edmonton and St. Albert have gone online.
“I think what this shows us is the government’s version of living with COVID, which basically means ignoring COVID. It’s not working,” said pediatrician Dr Tehseen Ladha.
She thinks the anxiety over the spread of Omicron in classrooms is doing more harm than good.
“The mental health impacts of not creating a safe space in schools, I would argue, are as deleterious as kids moving online, if not more so,” Ladha explained.
As of Monday, nearly 10 per cent of Edmonton public school students were absent. Six percent of them were due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, 565 teachers and 268 educational assistants were absent.
Edmonton Catholic Schools had 595 absent staff, including 328 teachers.
“There are things that can be done to help ease the stress on the system right now that will also allow us to be very well prepared in case we see something else happen in a few months,” said the president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Jason Schilling. .
The increase in the number of students in schools has renewed calls for more action from the government.
“They abdicated everything to school boards, so some consistent policies would be nice,” Schilling said.
Smaller class sizes, better ventilation, more teachers and contact tracing are among some of the things he wants to see in schools.
The NDP says the government has the money to do it.
“Last year, the UCP actually underspent the education budget by $600 million. Think about what could have been done to promote learning and increase safety with $600 million” , said education spokeswoman Sarah Hoffman.
“The government has said it is doing everything it can to keep schools safe and open, and if there is money left on the table that has not been used to do that, I question the validity of the Prime Minister’s and Minister’s comments,” Schilling said.
Dr Ladha also believes that more needs to be done to increase vaccination rates among children aged 5 to 11.
“Make access more equitable and increase the number of children vaccinated, because right now Alberta is well below the national average,” she said.
A Department of Education spokesperson said it continues to work with school divisions and more than 16 million medical-grade masks will be distributed in February, in addition to the 16 million sent out this month.
Dr Ladha said there is a risk, and not the least, with in-person learning, which is why vaccines and KN95 masks will go a long way in protecting children.
“We don’t know what the long-term effects of covid are on children. We’ve known about the flu for a long time but we don’t know what covid has in store for our children,” she said.
With files from Amanda Anderson of CTV News Edmonton