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School in the time of COVID. A parent perspective


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This post is from a parent in Red Deer.  He gave his permission to post this on Todayville and added “we haven’t talked to the teachers about any of this yet. These were the accounts our kids had and the anxiety the felt after that first day.”

Am I the only parent heart broken for our children?

Despite our two youngest girls having an “ok” first day of school, some of the stories all three shared were downright disturbing and saddening.
Picking up (our youngest), she was happy and bubbly, maybe just relieved the first day was over. Listening to her explain the “new normal” school rules was sad for sure. Probably more for the dad listening but unable to change how she was, in order to talk to a friend or anyone even in her class, required to wear her mask. Ok, fine…it’s what society has deemed a necessary inconvenience. Then, at lunch, she was told to keep their eyes down on their lunch and if they were to talk to a friend keep looking downward at the lunch table to speak, don’t look at your friend. She definitely did not enjoy wearing the mask but all and all she did ok.
(Our middle child), for the most part, had a great day. Just happy to be back in a social setting and willing to do whatever it takes. Her stories were different only to the fact that one teacher allowed them to remove their masks a bit more than the other, still tons of new rules, but she was still happy to be there learning.
(Our oldest) and her age group is where I start to get really concerned. Her day sounded more like a “break your will” first day of prison than covid precautions. She said her class was not allowed to remove their masks in class, even when seated separately facing forward. There was an expectation of no talking what so ever and their lunch was to be eaten in silence. She was so uncomfortable and awkward that we found her lunch had not been touched. The kid chose not to eat out of embarrassment. Apparently at recess, when the kids could finally take off their mask and were so excited to see their friends they’ve been missing, the school yard warden gave them shit for talking several times and deemed they weren’t “distancing” enough. They were then forced to wear their masks for the rest of recess.
I didn’t get as many details as (my wife) maybe, but what I heard broke my heart for all kids trying to have a life right now. Some of these little inconveniences seem to be more about obedience than safety and I just can’t see it working.
For the record, I am not ragging on teachers or school admin for trying to comply with what has to be an impossible to navigate policy. Nor am I trying to down play the fear and anxiety some parents have over just sending their kid to school. But, how long can this last? Will there be a sharp increase of high school kids dropping out to avoid the control? It just feels like to me, despite all good intention, our kid’s spirit and individuality will suffer the most.


Have Alberta’s Skilled Workers had Enough?

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The Canadian oil and gas industry suffered another blow on Sunday, October 25, when Cenovus Energy Inc. announced a $3.8 billion merger with 82-year old Canadian oil and gas company, Husky Energy. Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Husky is projected to lose up to 25% of its workforce as a result of the merger, approximately 2,150 jobs – mainly in Calgary. 

The news, which fell on Alberta’s increasingly restless population of unemployed workers and struggling families, many of whom believe Alberta has been left out in the cold for far too long already, has fueled ongoing discussions of a provincial brain drain. 

Simply put, brain drain is defined as “the departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector or field, usually for better pay or living conditions”. Recent statistics show this concept is rapidly gaining traction in Alberta as residents seek to escape the increasingly grim economic landscape to pursue opportunities elsewhere, beyond the provincial borders. 

As Canada’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, Alberta is no stranger to the boom and bust nature of the industry, experiencing cyclical periods of economic prosperity influenced by global conditions followed by detrimental crashes and ensuing hard times. Prior to this year, Alberta experienced a major economic crash in 2015, with the Canadian oil and gas industry suffering a $91 billion loss in revenue and layoffs reaching 35,000 workers in Alberta alone (1).

In the last 5 years, countless Albertans have struggled to regain their footing on shaky economic and political grounds, suffering substantial losses and insecurity. In this setting, the catastrophic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with pipeline delays and ongoing cuts in the Canadian oil and gas sector have left many Albertans with the feeling of being kicked while already down. 

According to the Government of Alberta Economic Dashboard, the price of oil for many Alberta oil producers fell 36.6% from September 2019, averaging $28.43 USD per barrel in September 2020, according to the Western Canada Select (WCS) price. The coinciding unemployment rate in Alberta was 11.7% in September 2020, down from its 15.5% spike in May 2020, but still 6.6% higher than in September 2019 (2).  

At this point, it seems a number of Albertans have simply had enough. According to The Alberta Annual Population Report 2019/20, “Alberta’s interprovincial migration patterns are heavily influenced by the economic conditions in the province, and as the economy cooled, the province experienced net outflows.” The report shows that 2,733 residents left Alberta between April and June 2020. 

The loss of another 2,150 oil and gas jobs as a result of the Cenovus merger comes as a disappointing yet predictable defeat for industry workers who have remained “down on their luck” for many years in Alberta. Effectively decimating industries worldwide, the pandemic has also successfully pulled the rug from beneath Alberta’s shaky footing, tanking oil and gas once more and leaving countless skilled workers with nowhere to go but out.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

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Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

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Canada reached a grim and worrying milestone Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths.

Alberta reported two deaths from COVID-19 to lift the national tally to 10,001.

COVID-19 case counts slowed across the country through the summer but have taken a big jump in many areas this fall, with new daily highs regularly being set through Central and Western Canada.

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first one was reported.

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Carr said she’s worried about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks.

She said Manitoba reported 13 deaths between Oct. 20 to 26, compared with 13 people who died in 21 weeks from the start of the pandemic last spring.

“Almost one in 20 people that are infected with COVID-19 in our country passed away,” Carr said in an interview. “It’s not a milestone we want to achieve, and my worry is the speed at which things are changing.”

Health Canada recently forecast 10,100 COVID-19 deaths in Canada by Nov. 1 as a worst-case scenario and now that number is close, she said.

Carr said the increased spread of COVID-19 will result in more opportunities for the virus to infect the elderly and other vulnerable people.

“The more that there is community-based spread, the fewer the options are for targeted approaches and restrictions without going back to a total shutdown,” she said.

But Carr said she doesn’t believe imposing further lockdowns on peoples economic and social well-being are the answer.

“We’re sabotaging those businesses and people that are paying the price because they are the ones that have been targeted as part of the solution to stop the spread.,” she said.

It’s up to people to fight COVID-19 by reducing their interactions and practising physical distancing, she said.

“The pathway back is for us to do the right thing and do our own continued lockdowns,” said Carr.

Quebec and Ontario lead the country in COVID-19 deaths, with 6,172 in Quebec and 3,103 in Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted today that the COVID-19 pandemic “really sucks” but added that a vaccine is coming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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