A person holding a backpack and a paper mask from the legs down.CUPE Alberta says the Kenney government’s decision to make masks mandatory for grades 4-12 is a step in the right direction, but the government still has a long way to go to actually make it safe for Alberta’s 700,000 students to go back to school in the fall.

“The premier needs to drop his reckless talking points about how young people are somehow immune to COVID-19 because, frankly, it’s not only ridiculous - it’s dangerous,” said Rory Gill, President of CUPE Alberta. “Young people who become infected at school can and will bring it home to their parents and their families, and drastically worsen community transmission if we continue on the premier’s reckless plan, that’s a fact.”

In light of the fact that Alberta has the fastest infection growth rate in Canada right now, CUPE is calling on the government to face reality, and make the accommodations and investments needed to create a safe return to school.

“The current plan is almost as bad as having no plan at all,” said Gill. “If we continue on this path, we could be facing some extremely dire consequences, and we could be quickly sending ourselves back to square one with no schools open at all.”

CUPE has called for class sized to be capped at 15 students to allow for meaningful physical distancing inside classrooms, and for the government to provide the additional resources that school boards need to make classrooms safe for students and staff alike.

CUPE represents over 10,000 workers across the province who work in schools as education assistants, administration, and as custodial staff.