AUPE demands justice for students and staff as condition of reopening
EDMONTON - The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) demands the resources K-12 students and staff deserve, in addition to more health and safety measures, as a condition of schools reopening in the fall.
Despite surges in COVID-19 cases, the Government of Alberta announced plans today (July 21) to send students back to school with little care for their learning, their mental and physical health and their safety.
“With an obviously rushed reopening already underway and causing a spike in COVID-19 cases, Albertans have no reason to trust this government with their children’s safety, nor do school employees have any reason to believe this government cares about their health and safety at work,” says AUPE Vice-President Mike Dempsey.
AUPE is also calling for the government to rehire the approximately 6,000 substitute teachers and 20,000 support staff who were laid off when schools closed this spring. Among the laid off staff were AUPE members working in K-12 support positions.
“If schools are to reopen, each and every worker who lost their job as a result of the pandemic deserves to have it back,” says Dempsey.
The government is not making masks mandatory and is not reducing class sizes – which was a serious problem before the pandemic – as part of the reopening plans. Additionally, Dr. Hinshaw said there would be enhanced cleaning at schools but gave no indication of who would be doing that additional work given the mass layoffs in March.
According to Dempsey, that’s a clear indication the government does not care about Albertans’ health and safety.
“Reopening schools poses a serious public health risk. If the government wants to reopen safely, they must increase funding for more staff, smaller class sizes, health and safety equipment, and the supports students and staff will need to reduce hazards and stay safe.”
“Dr. Hinshaw keeps reminding Albertans that COVID-19 is not going anywhere. It’s time the UCP government started acting like it.”
Vice-President Dempsey is available for interviews.
Please contact: Alexander Delorme, AUPE Communications: 780-264-9274