Alberta schools conference offers parents chance to address COVID-19 concerns

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This weekend’s Alberta Schools Council Association virtual three-day conference and annual general meeting has additional significance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic not only forced the cancellation of last year’s event, but it has also created uncertainty for the association, which represents parents who are members of school councils across Alberta. The uncertainty and stress have increased this month as a number of school divisions in the province have moved students grades 7 to 12 back to at-home learning.

“Sometimes there’s not a huge window of time for parents to pivot, so maybe even a weekend or one or two days and families have to pivot from sending their families to school, to whatever other arrangements they have to make for that child to be able to learn from home, and that’s stressful, added to all of the other things that they’re already navigating,” Alberta Schools Council Association president Brandi Rai said.

READ MORE: Edmonton schools temporarily move grades 7 to 12 online amid 3rd wave of COVID-19

Rai said a primary concern for many parents is the reduced engagement with schools as a result of the pandemic.

Rai said while she is thankful for a presentation by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange during the conference, parents were disappointed they did not have the opportunity to ask her questions.

“Engaging parents in education is not a one-way street where we just give information to them or we just give decisions to them; they are part of the process from start to finish because these are their children, and I think that’s really important,” Rai said.

READ MORE: Calgary junior, high schools move to online learning amid rising COVID-19 cases

During Friday and Saturday’s conference, parents participated in learning sessions, group dialogues and listened to keynote speaker’s presentations.

The annual general meeting will be held Sunday, where members will vote on resolutions put forward at the conference that could then become advocacy policies.

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