I believe that the current Calgary Board of Education trustees have done an outstanding job navigating the challenges of responding to the pandemic in near-impossible circumstances. CBE school leaders and teachers have gone far above and beyond their job descriptions (even as they dealt with downloaded provincial responsibilities this summer and fall) to keep our children happy, healthy, and in-school for as much of the past 20 months as possible. If elected, I would look to continue this cautious but evidence-based response to the on-going challenges (like keeping the mask mandate, aiming to bring back contact tracing through AHS in less time than the mid-November estimate, encouraging daily health verifications, etc.), while making it a priority to strengthen initiatives that were found to be weaknesses of our system, such as what is available online to students and the pedagogical methods attached to those offerings.
I can completely understand the desire to get back to "kids being kids" - of course that's what I'd like for my own elementary school aged kids. Unfortunately, our wishy-washy provincial policies have left us in the current circumstances where our healthcare system is on the verge of collapse and community transmission means school transmission means fuller ICUs until we can bring the numbers back down. Based on these severe outcomes for our communities, I have to think that increased cautions in schools are necessary.
I support vaccine mandates for teachers and staff who work in schools.
As far as mandated vaccines for students, I think that's quite complicated, in spite of my personal desire to see as many people vaccinated as possible. For starters, I don't think public schools could legally mandate vaccinations for children because public education is a fundamentally essential service; I think, just like a hospital must treat any and all patients who pass through their doors and could never mandate that patients be vaccinated to receive treatment, public schools cannot (and should not) turn away any children who pass through their doors. Secondly, my philosophy on public education and its role in the modern democratic project, is that public schools should be a place where students are exposed to all kinds of thinking on the very important questions (such as how we handle a deadly, global pandemic) and to force unvaccinated children out of school, means that those children miss out on the opportunity to hear from their peers and educators about other ways of thinking about these complex, real-world issues and vice-versus. Thankfully, children do NOT seem as susceptible to the severe impacts of Covid-19 or its long-haul symptoms, so it seems we can invite all children into the schools without great risk of harm.