‘Left in the lurch’: Teachers, parents anxious over return-to-school

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But some Alberta teachers worry these measures don’t go far enough, as the province has recently experienced near-daily triple-digit jumps in COVID-19 case counts.

“We figure that distancing will only last three or four days,” said a Grade 5 teacher at a southwest Calgary school, who asked not to be identified due to worries of potential consequences from her school board.

“We’re talking about nine- to 15-year-olds. By the very nature of children, they’re social and they interact. How do you regulate that?”

The teacher’s school ran an experiment in June to see how many students could fit in a classroom while maintaining physical distancing, removing all unnecessary furniture.

Thirteen students could safely fit in the room. Class sizes at the school are slated to be about 26.

For the teacher, the lack of a mandate for mask use in school is of concern, given government advice to wear masks when it is not possible to distance, particularly in indoor spaces.

“Masks need to be mandatory in schools, period,” she said. “We don’t want to be (the province’s) science experiment. We’ve got too many staff members who are older or who have compromised immune systems, or asthma, or diabetes.”

Following last week’s return-to-school announcement, Carla Davidson started the Project Safe September letter-writing campaign. Davidson’s daughter will be entering Grade 6 at a southeast Calgary middle school this September, and while she isn’t sure a mask mandate for kids is the solution, she says much more needs to be done to ensure safety, starting with extra funding.