Red Deer school trustees condemn Alberta government for causing ‘division and chaos’

The board of trustees for a central Alberta school district is criticizing the United Conservative government for shifting responsibility for COVID-19 public health decisions to school boards.

The Red Deer Public School Division says in a letter to Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan that school boards have varied in their health decisions, which has caused “division and chaos” in communities across Alberta.

The Red Deer trustees say the government has abdicated its responsibility to lead under challenging circumstances and to protect the health of students and families.

Read more: Several Alberta schools experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks early in 2021-22 school year

The government has said school authorities have the ability to put additional safety measures in place, including physical distancing and mask mandates, but are not required to do so.

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In the letter, the trustees say leadership is about making decisions with people.

They say Red Deer Public Schools will make the best choices for its communities, even though the decisions should fall under provincial jurisdiction.

“Your government abdicated what was rightfully within the purview of government and public health, laying it on the feet of school boards,” says the letter.

“In doing so, you have further caused and increased division and frustrations in communities across Alberta, which is having a negative impact on the teaching and learning of students, who have already been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the absence of the province notifying close contacts, on Wednesday Edmonton Catholic Schools asked parents to tell them when their kid tests positive for COVID-19 so the division can do the job themselves.

“In light of the evolving circumstances in our community and our commitment to keeping families informed, we will begin sending notifications home should a case of COVID-19 be reported to our school administration,” the letter to parents said.

Read more: Edmonton Catholic Schools taking COVID-19 contact tracing into its own hands

— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News

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