Below is a joint statement from the Alberta Teachers' Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees, Unifor and the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Students are now returning to school. The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. The Government of Alberta has a duty to ensure our schools are as safe as possible for workers, students and all their families. Ensuring safe schools ensures other Albertans aren’t put at risk.
This means the Government of Alberta must not cut corners when it comes to keeping Alberta students and families protected from COVID-19 spread in schools.
Yet, the current plan for school reopening from the government has many gaps and has been created without proper consultation. To date, our requests for proper consultation from education workers have been ignored.
Together, we are calling for these four things from Jason Kenney’s government:
That more voices be included when the Government of Alberta brings together stakeholders to advise on the pandemic’s impact on schools. Specifically, that voices from all of the unions who represent workers in our schools be brought to the table. Consultation with school boards and superintendents is not enough. Support unions such as Unifor and CUPE must be included so that education workers, who are on the frontline fighting the spread of COVID-19 in schools, are at the table.
- That representatives from Medical Officer of Health be added to this stakeholder group to share important public health information and answer questions directly.z
- That this stakeholder group be formalized by the government and convened on a regular basis to assess, adapt and respond to shifting needs and conditions in the fight against COVID-19 in schools.
- That the Government of Alberta provide clear information and guidance on what a transition between scenarios will look like, if a transition between scenarios is needed. This would mean sharing information about what data and criteria that is being used to inform these decisions.
- The government and school boards have a duty to ensure that there are adequate resources to ensure safety. That means having enough workers; enough space; enough masks and other required personal protective equipment; and enough sanitizers, soap and washing stations. That means adequately consulting and listening to those who work in our schools.
Anything less means placing students, staff and Alberta families at unacceptable risk.