Alberta Education Cuts Amount To Over 20,000 Likely Support Staff Layoffs

Melanie Woods
Duane Froese's daughter participates in a session with her educational assistant.

Since schools closed two weeks ago, Duane Froese’s daughter has worked with an educational assistant (EA) almost every day using video conferencing. 

Froese’s daughter has Rett syndrome, a neurological disorder that affects motor ability. She has worked with her current EA daily in the classroom for the past two years to adapt lesson plans to help her perform on par with the other kids in her Grade 2 class.

“She is nonverbal, she also does not walk, and she has limited hand function,” Froese, who lives in Edmonton, said. “And so the aides really facilitate her learning through adapted communication.”

With recent school closures related to the coronavirus pandemic, those in-class sessions have shifted online. Alberta has moved towards at-home learning for all students, but Froese says the EA has been a vital resource in particular helping his daughter adapt to learning from home.

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But that resource may not be there forever.

Provincial funding cuts announced over the weekend include layoffs to an anticipated 26,000 education support workers in Alberta, which could leave many kids without vital educational supports.

The cuts were unveiled Saturday by Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, who called them a necessity in the wake of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“COVID-19 has changed both how we provide student learning, and the operational needs of the education system,” LaGrange said in a statement. 

“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...

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