Summer is sacred in Canada while September heralds the end of long nights, and a sense of renewal and reflection as children head back to school. Who would have predicted in January 2020 that the backdrop for return to school would include COVID-19!
Alberta prides itself on having quality education at both the K-12 and post-secondary levels. A strong history of excellence in learning comes with high expectations for both parents and students alike. Post secondaries across the province have been diligently looking at delivering quality education for the fall, and for all higher learning institutions across the province, the bulk of their instruction will be online. Many institutions felt that, given the wide student population age range (18 to 108), and as many as 400 students in larger lecture halls, the shift to online education for the upcoming semester was necessary. For the younger K-12 students, much of the conversation has focussed around the term “near normal”. On July 21, with a follow up on August 4, Minister of Education Adriana LeGrange announced there will be a return to masked, in-school learning this fall.
Jurisdictions across Alberta have experienced different rates of COVID, and the provincial return to school kit provided to local school boards enables the flexibility to adjust and adapt to local needs, circumstances, and community infection rates. Nothing about COVID is easy or without some level of personal, professional or community anxiety. That is the reality. But we know COVID has been hard on all of us emotionally, financially, and physically. Having personally survived a Tsunami, a bombing raid, and having to abandon a sinking ship gives me the perspective to be grateful for life, to not take anything for granted, and to recognize the need for calm and resilience in supporting Alberta’s next generation of leaders in facing life’s challenges. Resiliency allows us to move ahead knowing that our sense of “normal” may be adjusted but that collectively we have the fortitude to persevere and prevail just as our indigenous people and settlers demonstrated when building Alberta.
As print deadlines for our local Great News publications are a few weeks out, please note that some of the back to school information provided may be amended prior to distribution. I would recommend following me on Facebook for more current information or signing up for our e-newsletter. I am forever grateful for Dr. Hinshaw and her team who are in constant communication with our Premier and Ministers in providing timely scientific advice on the most current data in protection of Albertans health and well-being.
As always, my office is open for virtual meetings and calls. Please do not hesitate to reach out, as listening to your questions, insights, and concerns assists me in my advocacy on your behalf.