The Government of Alberta announced on Saturday that it is cutting funding for K-12 programs while cancelling contracts for substitute teachers, educational assistants, transportation, and other staff that is considered non-essential for home learning.
“COVID-19 has changed both how we provide student learning, and the operational needs of the education system,” stated Education Minister Adriana LaGrange in a press release.
“I want to stress that this is a temporary arrangement as schools focus on at-home learning. I have full confidence the system will continue to be equipped to successfully deliver our education continuity plan.”
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Any money saved is being re-allocated to the province’s COVID-19 response, and all affected staff will qualify for government unemployment and applicable benefits.
The government has assured education boards that the cuts are temporary.
“The UCP has made a terrible, cruel decision, and it has been met with desperate cries from parents, students, and staff themselves,” said Opposition Critic for Education Sarah Hoffman in a press conference addressing the cuts.
A parent with four special needs children, Jessica Kewley spoke at the conference through a remote link.
“I expected this government to look out for its most vulnerable,” said Kewley.
“But what they’ve done is basically thrown them under the bus.”
A substitute with the Calgary Board of Education, who asked to remain anonymous, was informed of the cuts via email. The source voiced concerns during an interview with Daily Hive.
“I don’t know if I have to reapply for my job in the fall, or what’s going on,” said the source. “It’s a lot of uncertainty.”