EDMONTON, Alberta – (BUSINESS WIRE) – CUPE Alberta urges Jason Kenney to return to work immediately and to ensure students and workers are safe when they return to class.

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises across the province, Prime Minister Jason Kenney was “on vacation” and has not made a public statement since Aug. 9. In the meantime, the premier has left the school authorities to make individual decisions about how best to protect students. The bodies must make these decisions without access to data or medical advice. This has created confusion among boards of directors and frustration among parents and employees.

“School authorities are not medical institutions. They do not have the expertise or information to responsibly manage the pandemic response, and neither should it be expected. Alberta is the only jurisdiction in the country that does absolutely nothing to protect students and education workers. Jason Kenney insists the pandemic is over, even as the numbers rise across the province. He has let down workers, parents and students and shown that we are not a priority, ”said Lee-Ann Kalen, President of CUPE Alberta.

Last year Alberta faced just over 1,000 active cases when it went back to school. To protect students and educational workers, masks were prescribed and a cohort system was introduced. This year there are nine times more active cases in the province and the UCP has not ordered protective measures. CUPE urges the government to implement all of the protective measures from last year this year.

“The government must take responsibility for the health and safety of students and staff. This is a much more contagious variant. Closing your eyes and crossing your fingers is not an appropriate mitigation strategy for schools in Alberta. We need a leader who looks at data carefully and acts responsibly to protect Albertans. It’s time for Jason Kenney to get back to work, ”said Kalen.

CUPE Alberta represents 8,700 members who work in the education sector.