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Questions remain about pandemic preparedness

Posted on September 3, 2020 by admin

Union-wise especially, teachers and those in health care were always kindred spirits.

Joined together in providing critical service to the public, having strong union presence is generally a respected part of Alberta.

Now, it is more of a case of misery loves company.

In a normal year, there is a sometime split on the positivity in getting back to class and school to resume.

Chances are this year, there is more of a feeling of concern, apprehension and perhaps outright avoidance of the topic of going back to school as COVID-19’s effects continue to domination the globe.

Both have seen front line positions in health and education eliminated.

The government seems to be making arbitrary decisions without a lot of meaningful, if not just plain disregarded, dialogue for both.

While the health community has to deal with the pandemic, teachers have a dilemma.

Besides the less than enthusiastic reaction to the eight new advisors for revamping the K-12 curriculum, the tenuous plans to get students back in the classrooms in Alberta has been problematic.

Their focus is on students and their relationship there.

A mid-August infographic from CBC showed Alberta’s active case rate (per 100K population) for COVID-19 as leading the country, surpassing even Quebec.

But, in the name of bringing economics to the forefront, the show must go on.

So with the cross your fingers and hope nothing massively bad happens, schools are opening.

To be fair, the pandemic numbers have been good for a while but when restrictions were loosened, those numbers went up.

However, the ultimate rating system: mortality rates — and remember we are talking about people who love spreadsheets and relative numbers — it is not a lot compared to what has been happening in the United States.

In the United States as of mid-August, there have been 5.26 million cases with 167,000 deaths.

In New York alone there has been 428,000 cases and 33,000 deaths and in California 603,000 cases and 11,000 death.

Nonetheless, it is due to the initial stringent adherence to rules which have kept the virus in check.

However, the relaxation of the provincial guidelines and now a confusing back to classroom plan has more (loop) holes than a 1-kg box of Fruit Loops.

Any parent will tell you that when September comes, so comes all the sicknesses and are brought home.

You know full well that someone that either works or goes to a school will have COVID-19 virus.

Even though there will be rules in place, everyone will be so happy to see each other.

Pandemic fatigue has fully settled in as we are all yearning for pre-COVID-19 status quo and social distancing rules will be met and eventually ignored.

So when that one teacher gets the virus, does that mean the whole classroom is sent home for 10-14 days?

The school?

How does that one class of students get their homework done?

How do they know what homework to do?

Are they set up on the virtual classrooms?

Because that classroom was in an enclosed building with other students from other classes, are they sent home, too?

Is the whole school going to be tested?

The government has set aside and budgeted for two masks for each student.

That ought to be enough for the whole year, right parents?

Anyone with a child from K-12 knows a student’s propensity to lose things. Then what, does the student not wear one?

No potential for disaster there at all. Who can’t see these scenarios coming?

A simple formula again comes to the forefront: make a policy decision based on ideology i.e. eventually economics; let those on the front lines, not management, figure it out for themselves and then share a social media post which has a cabinet minister amongst the common folk to demonstrate they understand the common people and their decision is in the best interest of them all.

In this case, Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was shown shopping for school supplies with her grandchildren.

See? She’s one of us?

Any decisions made by the government must be in the best interest of the parents and students because she knows how hard it is to pick up the right kind of pencil and eraser.

Doctors are probably sitting back watching all of this, not just from a sympathetic professional standpoint knowing they will soon be getting busier with increased hospital visits and inquiries.

Physicians have seen this lack of attention to detail and forethought before — not just with the spreadsheet and budget details.

This editorial originated in the Prairie Post.

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