ATA president Jason Schilling has released the following statement commenting on Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange’s decision to refrain from delaying the start of the school year as had been requested by the Alberta Teachers’ Association:
“Two days ago, I met with the Minister of Education, shared with her some of the serious concerns being expressed to me around the readiness of schools to admit students and requested that the resumption of classes be postponed until after Labour Day to give principals, teachers and school staff a better opportunity to adequately prepare for a safe restart.
“The Minister said that she would talk to other stakeholder and representative groups and respond.
“The Minister kept her word and consulted with the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) and the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS). She reports that she was told by the school boards and superintendents that they have no concerns with government’s direction, there was no need for a general delay and that plans they have in place are good to go. I have no reason to doubt her account of these conversations with ASBA and CASS.
“School boards value and insist on their autonomy. They have willingly assumed responsibility for school start-up and apparently believe that all necessary arrangements and resources are in place.
“The Minister in her statement today reiterated that school boards have the freedom to manage restart as they see fit. Clearly, parents and members of the public who have concerns about schooling during the pandemic will now need to hold their elected school board trustees accountable for the consequences.
“My job will be to continue to hear and press forward the concerns of my members—the teachers and principals of Alberta—who now have the hard work of attempting a safe and orderly restart ahead of them. They are the people who will be on the front lines dealing with students and responding to parents—not the minister, not officials, not superintendents and not trustees.
“Teachers want to return to school, but they want to ensure that school is a safe place for themselves and the students they care for. Time is rapidly running out to see this happen.”
- Jason Schilling, ATA President
The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.