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Advocacy group continues to raise alarm on back to school plan

Last Updated Aug 14, 2020 at 8:47 am MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) – With just weeks until Alberta students return to class, one advocacy group says returning to school isn’t safe and wants the fall semester pushed back.

“We’re running out of time to really have some clarity on what the school year is going to look like. Parents still don’t have the information that they need in order to make an informed decision.”

Carla Davidson is a mom of two who started Project Safe September, less than a week after the announcement to resume in-person classes in Alberta.

The group is campaigning for reduced class sizes, more safety precautions and more support in general so parents feel that the risk is low enough for a safe return.

“I change my mind, a couple times a day on what to do. I think it’s a really difficult decision a lot of parents are really struggling with.”

For Project Safe September, the glaring issue is a contentious one that has been long debated.

“It’s really concerning to me that we’re going into a situation where the single most important mechanism for controlling the spread of COVID, which is the number of kids in a class and how they’re socially distanced,” said Davidson.

“That number is not even, it’s not being managed, it’s not even being tracked.”

Earlier this week, B.C.’s education minister announced the Province will be pushing their school year back from Sept. 8 until Sept. 10, in a gradual return.

Here in Alberta, however, most kids will head back Sept 1, though Dr. Deena Hinshaw is rolling out a new precautionary advisory.

“I am recommending that all teachers and school-based staff even without symptoms should be tested once before September and regularly throughout the year.”

For Davidson though she feels the Province’s plans have been too vague.

“(There’s) not a lot of feedback on how parent concerns are going to be addressed. That’s a real gap in leadership.”

Students can be registered for online learning as of now, but if they choose that route, the Calgary Board of Education says they won’t be able to opt out, until February.