August 26, 2021
Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Chief Medical Officer of Health
10025 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton Alberta T5J 2N3
Dear Dr. Hinshaw
Re: Public School Reopening.
I am writing to you about concerns for COVID containment and control policies in reopening Alberta’s K-12 school systems. I believe your office, and your COVID team, are at the centre of recommending and implementing these policies.
School reopenings, as announced by Alberta’s Minister of Education, seem to be haphazard, lacking consistent policy application and based on an ill-advised delegation of COVID-related healthcare responsibility on local School Boards and parents.
This is bound to increase anxieties, fears, and frustrations amongst students, parents, teachers, administrators, and Trustees. The Minister of Education has said “local school authorities have the authority to bring in additional measures, and families will NEED (emphasis added) to decide for themselves what precautions ‘make sense for them.’”
What are the skills, expertise, and information needed for Trustees and parents to responsibly make such health and safety decisions related to school-based COVID operations? Do parents have the ability to interpret health data, grasp the issues, and assess risks when deciding what precautions “make sense” for their child? What are the public health risks as a consequence of such ignorance and error?
Will parents get instruction on how to interpret and assess ongoing school-based risks? Will AHS or your Office provide detailed real-time location-specific infection updates along with specific guidance and directions to all concerned? What assurance is there that parents, teachers, school administrations will even receive timely, accurate, reliable, and relevant information on COVID-related conditions at individual schools?
On another matter, there is, as you well know, a growing erosion of public trust in Alberta’s governance and regulatory systems. COVID has made matters worse. On August 13, 2021, you recognized the need for reliable and relevant public disclosure of the reasons behind the COVID-related policy recommendations and decisions.
You undertook to publicly release a synopsis of the research and evidence used to support the recommendations to remove almost all COVID containment and control measures. It’s been almost two weeks, but no public release, so far as I know.
Such unexplained delays undermine essential public trust in regulatory authorities. Delay also raises suspicions of political manipulation and interference with the professional duties and legal obligations of your office.
What is the status of the public release of that information as promised?
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for considering these concerns. Looking forward to your response.
A Concerned Albertan