Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health says parents worrying about sending their children back to the classroom this fall should remember that school is about much more than just education.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw says she realizes that many parents, teachers and students still have worries about the province's school re-entry plan. Many of those questions are around what informed the public health recommendations the province provided for that plan.
"My advice is based on a review of evidence on what has worked, or what has not worked, on children around the world and on what science and medicine have learned about children and their experiences with the COVID-19 virus."
For people who wonder why they would look at re-opening schools at all during a pandemic, Hinshaw has this to say. "We must look at the overall health of our population and everything that contributes to health. We cannot simply concentrate on COVID-19 alone, as there are other risks that must be factored in."
Hinshaw says that many pediatric organizations agree that a safe return to school is critical to the physical and mental health of students and their families. "School is about more than education," Hinshaw says. "It is equally important to a child's socialization, mental health, food security through school nutrition programs and protections from other harms that may result from additional stress or financial hardships if parents are unable to work."
Hinshaw says her recommendations to safely re-open schools were based on all available evidence from around the world including the European Centres for Disease Control and the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Group. With what Hinshaw called a "dizzying array of information on schools and COVID-19 transmissions in children" some of which is contradictory, it's important to look at the entire picture and not just one or two examples.
Hinshaw says as a parent of school-age children herself, she's decided that the value of in-school learning outweighs the risks for her family and will be sending her children back to school in September.
After weighing all the options and consequences, Rocky View Schools is asking that parents to submit their intentions with regards to their child's attendance. You are asked to respond by 9 a.m. Monday, August 24, 2020. Click here to access the form.