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The Improvements, The Hard Reality And The Work We Have To Do

21.01.24.The-Improvements-The-Hard-Reality-and-The-Work-We-Have-To-Do Children are not meant to be locked up or locked down....

 January 22nd, 2021 the Department of Education announced the new details of what home educators can and cannot do under the current lockdown orders given by Dr. Hinshaw, which will go into effect Monday, January 25th. The home education community must note that the Ministry is limited in its response by the current State of Emergency in Alberta. That said, the clarity is welcomed as it gives AHEA the opportunity to reiterate that home education is not the same educational model as what occurs in a brick-and-mortar school, and attempts to make us fit that mold will always sit, and fit, wrong. There is obviously more work to do in ensuring that our educational model is not seen in the light of 'social gatherings' in the eyes of AHS and that the Dept. of Education is well equipped to rebuff that type of qualification from the outset. AHEA will continue to respectfully work with all parties to ensure that the interests and understanding of home education increase.

As a home education community, we need to ensure we are paying attention, focusing our collective efforts and are prepared to work. So carefully review what we have gained and what is challenging. Then, let's address what is really required to solve the issue we face – that our children, all children, are really suffering. The main source document that you need to cross-reference to is found here, being the Guidance for Schools on Re-Entry – Scenario 1.

The Improvements
  • Home education students can participate in joint home education co-op activities / supportive group learning environments outside of their homes. Note that this applies to either situation. (You must adhere to the health measures that also apply to schools.)
  • Supportive learning environments are what works for your learning and are self-determined.
  • Home educators can be in cohort groups. Caveats are:
    o   They must follow the cohort guidance (see cross-reference document on cohorting).
            - Note: A responsible adult is required within each group that can identify close contacts in the event of a case.
    o   Use the appropriate Alberta Health Daily Checklist.
  • You determine your size or number. There are no defined parameters for either from the Ministry, and home educators appreciate the flexibility.
  • Recess with cohorts is allowed. Outdoor play-based learning or other learning activities are allowed in cohorts. (50 maximum for sports, phys ed, and recreation cohorting. See details here.)
  • Being in multiple cohorts is allowed for those in multiple classes (see cross-reference document section on cohorting). In schools, this situation would normally be limited to high school, but home education is different and students of all ages are in multiple learning environments as required.

The Hard Reality
  • Meeting inside a home remains prohibited. - You may meet outside. You may meet in a facility. The indoor and outdoor social gathering restrictions remain in place.
  • Mandated masking - Parents and students 10 years of age and older (Grades 4 and older) choosing to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside their home must wear a non-medical face mask in accordance with the masking requirements in school (CMOH Order 33-2020 (see cross-reference document section on non-medical face masks)).
    o   NOT applicable to those under 10 years old
    o   "Exceptions to the mask requirement include:
          -    "Persons engaged in physical exercise"
          -   "Persons seated at a desk or table in a place where instruction is taking place and where the desks/tables/chairs are arranged in a manner to prevent persons who are seated from facing each other, and to allow the greatest possible distance between seated persons."
  • Parents and students must follow the physical distancing guidelines.
    o   Please see cross-reference document section on physical distancing guidance on when 2 metres is not possible between desks or in a classroom.
  • Parents are required to develop procedures outlining hand hygiene requirements and follow enhanced cleaning, disinfecting guidance (see cross-reference document).

The Work Left To Do

ALL parents in the province of Alberta, or in Canada for that matter, have little need of further scientific confirmation about the negative effects of lockdowns on their children. The truth of the matter is right before their eyes, looking back at them in the familiar faces of their beloved children. After ten months parents know that there is a distinct difference between teaching them how to endure, to be careful and considerate, to learn and adjust and to put the needs of others before themselves and what is being required. This is not like a short time out, or learning to give up a toy to a younger sibling, although I'm sure plenty of those lessons are being taught while in lockdown. Parents are prepared to parent, but we are not okay with being the enforcers of what is equaling a government mandated action that would be seen as abuse in any other situation. Children are not meant to be locked up and deprived of stimulation – physical/sensory, emotional, social, religious or communal.

AHEA parents believe in rights and freedoms, individual liberty and doing what is best for our children, for these rights come with responsibilities. Cause and effect are true in any life being lived, as it was for those whose lives have been lost. Death is a reality we all face, and we cannot and do not accept that we must live like we are 'dead' in order to survive. Our children should not be forced to give up their childhoods, friendships, normalcy, social skills or aspirations. We need to get back to dealing in reality so it needs to be said – what is happening is wrong and causing harm day in and day out.


What You CAN Do 

  1. Pray. This is the first and most effective response of God's people. Pray against fear and apathy.

  2. You can continue to help AHEA advocate on your behalf by continuing to protest the status quo. One or more emails a day would be impactful, so keep emailing or writing about your concerns. If you only want to do one email a day, draft one and CC everyone else – easy! Parents have been advised that they should contact Dr. Hinshaw directly instead of their elected official by the officials. That is advice with interesting implications that parents should think about as well, since our elected officials are responsible.

a.   Dr. Hinshaw needs to hear from you. Perhaps you want to send a daily health update on your family to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Talk about the real impacts on your families.
b.   Copy one or more government officials on your daily letter. You can look up all the email addresses in the right-hand column on AHEA website here. (You may wish to subscribe to the Political Updates to keep up to date – button just above the list.)

3. You can help change the direction of government by being seen and heard in the two places important places that politicians watch carefully – print media and social media.

#SaveOurYouth This is a social media campaign spearheaded by mothers to raise awareness of the consequences of these restrictions on our youth. Post with this hashtag stories and comments that will change the media narrative and the dialogue around it. Children of all ages are suffering under this lockdown and the harms are real. You can join the Alberta Chapter here.

TYPES OF POSTS TO SHARE:

      • News Needing a Response – Jump onto media articles and use the hashtag #SaveOurYouth. Share personal stories. Share data.
      • Data, Studies and Stories – Post data for others to use, share studies and heartfelt stories.

Read this article in full when you have time.

"Young Canadians have reached out to Kids Help Phone more than 4 million times in 2020, signalling a sharp uptick in calls for help compared to previous years and a growing chorus of youth who continue to struggle under the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Still, the volume of calls is unlike anything Kids Help Phone has experienced since its inception in 1989. Calls have been pouring in from children as young as five to young adults as old as 28, mainly to seek help for their mental and emotional health."
[1]

4. It is time the parents of the province united their efforts and demand that the cost of the current actions be weighed against the assumed benefits. There is a legal obligation on the government to prove that their actions, which impact our Charter freedoms, are justifiable. The following are references that you may find helpful in your own considerations and in putting forward your concerns.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Section 2 – Fundamental Freedoms
a.   freedom of conscience and religion;
b.   freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
c.   freedom of peaceful assembly; and
d.   freedom of association.

Section 7 – Life, liberty and security of person

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

"
Section 7 also protects a sphere of personal autonomy involving "inherently private choices" that go to the "core of what it means to enjoy individual dignity and independence" (Godbout v. Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 S.C.R. 844 at paragraph 66; Association of Justice Counsel v. Canada (Attorney General), 2017 SCC 55 at paragraph 49). Where state compulsions or prohibitions affect such choices, s. 7 may be engaged (A.C. v. Manitoba (Director of Child and Family Services), 2009 SCC 30, at paragraphs 100-102; Blencoe, supra at paragraphs 49-54; Siemens v. Manitoba (Attorney General), [2003] 1 S.C.R. 6 at paragraph 45) This aspect of liberty includes the right to refuse medical treatment (A.C., supra, at paragraphs 100-102, 136) and the right to make "reasonable medical choices" without threat of criminal prosecution: R. v. Smith, 2015 SCC 34 at paragraph 18. It may also include the ability to choose where one intends to live (Godbout, supra), as well as a protected sphere of parental decision-making for parents to ensure their children's well-being, e.g., a right to make decisions concerning a child's education and health (B.(R.), supra, at paragraph 80)."[2]

Flying Blind – A Report by the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms

"This paper argues that: 1) Canadian governments at all three levels did not properly and adequately consider the specific nature and the full extent of lockdown harms that would result from the Charter infringements that governments initiated. Governments assumed, based on speculation and predictions, not on evidence, that the Charter violations would prevent large numbers of deaths; they assumed that the number of people who would otherwise have died was huge; they did not think much (or at all) about lockdown harms, nor whether these harms would be greater than the benefits."[3]


Help US Help YOU & Support AHEA Today!
AHEA works hard year-round to advocate for home education in Alberta. We are grateful to be able to speak to issues like this in a constructive way to government on your behalf. Your support of our organization allows us to focus on the issues that we face today and anticipate facing tomorrow.
Explore our website here and make financial contributions here.


[1] https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/12/13/4-million-cries-for-help-calls-to-kids-help-phone-soar-amid-pandemic.html?fbclid=IwAR3lvFUg-z2NYuCfiWPr5LanV1kXhGshnTLj-YA32WWKVd7nh_UVmD5LqNg

[2] https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/rfc-dlc/ccrf-ccdl/check/art7.html

[3] https://www.jccf.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2020-12-03-Flying-Blind.pdf

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Observing and Remembering Are Different

Lest-We-Forget

The lens through which we look at the world informs our decisions/actions. This year's Remembrance Day was especially poignant for that reason. As our last surviving war veterans leave us, what they risked their lives for may be leaving us too. It is said that every generation has to defend the freedoms they have inherited or fight for the freedom they want. Failure means loss. And who in our land knows what they would risk their lives for today? Our country? Our beliefs?

Observation is mostly passive. Watching a ceremony can become part of a routine that slowly, but surely, loses its meaning. The importance that something has can be underestimated when it is not on a individual level. Passivity, in either a personal or cultural sense, means a lack of resistance that may result in submissiveness, reliance and a retreat into inaction.

Remembering in itself is a personal action. It means that we have internalized something, whether we have participated directly or not. We develop a deep appreciation for the reasoning, action and the resulting cost. Our understanding means that we are willing to pay a price for something that we value.

God asked the Israelites to remember constantly. It was a multi-generational action that was to enable them to translate history into their current situation, imbibing them with the ability to react correctly on a personal level. The beauty of the Christian faith is that it inherently challenges us to think. Questions are welcomed because there are answers. And because there are answers, we can take heart.

Today we are at a serious point in history. And because we are living history, it is vital that we take the time to remember – very carefully remember – before we take action or respond in a way that is reflexive. Though each of us have our own personal history and memories to draw from, we also have our biblical and world-wide shared history to examine and recall. We should be able to read, watch, and consider information in order to come to a conclusion for ourselves and our families, and to influence what happens in our cities, province and country. We are also starting to sense, even more critically, that our action or inaction have the ability to affect things on a world-wide scale.

Censorship is a real threat today. The Government of Canada is actively seeking ways to control what you are able to see and read, in order to affect your response to politics. This censorship will deprive you of important information – information you are entitled to as a citizen in a free country. Only in a country that is in the process of losing its freedoms, or in one that is no longer free, does the government decide what you get to base your decisions on. The next step, of course, is that you will not have to consider your position at all, for it will be provided to you.

Home educators should be aware of this tendency towards censorship, as we have fought it on a provincial level in recent years. Do you recall the efforts to have the Human Rights Code instilled in the Education Act? This would have resulted in creating an expectation about what you could teach that may have conflicted with what you explained on a personal belief level to your children. Do you recall the efforts to dictate to the independent Christian schools that they could not use biblical language in their policies? Many home educating families, who notified with these schools that had to go to court to defend their right to hold and/or teach from a religious perspective, will remember this significant battle. Yes, the threat to freedom is real in our own province.

Anyone, including home educators, who thinks that they need not concern themselves with life outside their home is committing a grave error in judgement. "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean that politics won't take an interest in you," said Pericles. Edward R. Murrow was blunter, "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves." We do ourselves, and our community, a disservice by disengaging. This is true in the normal day-to-day, and even more so in a time of unease, strain, change and crisis. Now is when we must do our best work to affect governmental responses and to see that our interests are preserved and protected.

AHEA has long stood as an independent voice for home educating families in the province of Alberta. Within the education community, we have a 35-year history of speaking up for families that are affected by government action. This has allowed us to advocate for positive change and to resist the negative. We must never forget that ongoing actions are constantly required in both circumstances. And we must constantly be preparing for next steps, because there are always other groups preparing theirs.

Your direct connection with AHEA is critical to our ability to protect and speak up for your interests. The home educating family that supports AHEA's work through donations enables us to provide a voice for their interests. You can observe the work being done, or you can remember what is being done by internalizing and seeing how you are directly affected by this work… And remembering will lead to action. We need your direct financial support today, so that we can continue to support the work you do each and every day in your home. Please see our website for information on work being done on your behalf and to make a donation to keep our voice loud and strong. We need you just as much as you need us!

God gave you the rights that we are all endowed with, and men died for the freedoms you have enjoyed. Let us ensure that we work hard to have an informed, nuanced, biblical and educated perspective in order to take appropriate actions today. We need to remember and take action, instead of just being observers. 

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Home Education Accessibility Needs To Be Addressed

20.10.Home-Education-Accessibility

AHEA knows that becoming a home educator is supposed to be accessible all year round. We started discussing the fact that the volume of people looking at home education was going to create a bottle neck at our July meeting with Minister LaGrange. We observed that covid was creating waves in the education world. There had already been an influx of interest by families who liked their child learning at home with them, now followed by those who are nervous, and potentially more who are unwilling or unable to work within the new school context for many reasons. The normal trickle of 'rescue' families by boards that are not eligible for funding may be a steady flow during this unusual year. We asked the Minister to have a plan in place to adjust funding after Sept. 30th.

Now that the September 30th Count Date has passed it has clearly become more difficult for families to access home education. AHEA has seen messages going up each day, looking for groups that are willing to accept families. It concerns us greatly that there has not been an official and public answer that addresses this disparity in access. The need for access was brought up early in order to head off the problem which is now being experienced by potential home education families. We are seeing 'registration closed' or acceptances with a fee or donation required, if a home can be found at all. This is certainly far from providing equal access or access to ideologically aligned supervision if it is desired. Notification only, no funding is but one of the choices that Alberta Education offers. We'd like to see parents continue to have ALL their choices in educational matters for their children.

Parents should know that the home education model is a valid, accessible, year-round choice. AHEA is counting on AB Education and the Minister working together with the home education community to ensure that this is the message being sent or perceived, publicly or within our community. The current logjam must be resolved quickly so as to not dishearten those who wish to become home educators this year. That is why AHEA is making this exceptional request regarding funding and has given a proposal for their consideration. Stay tuned.

                            *               *               *               *               *               *               *               *
 

Did you know... that you do not have to talk to the school or previous place you had your children with? 

NOTIFYING WITH SOMEONE NEW IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO!

Many parents get talked out of their decision when they advise someone that they are leaving. This results in an attempt to retain their 'business.' When your notification is entered into the PASI system, the old place you were with will no longer be able to count you - the files will be transferred automatically.  Spread the word! 

*This year it was a courtesy to advise any home education associate board if you were making a change as they have been flooded with inquiries. Public schools had been making personal calls to ask families what they are choosing. Remember, the choice is totally yours - there is no requirement to disclose your choice to anyone except as required by your new notification recipient.


AHEA is a not-for-profit organization that appreciates the support of the community. Donations to AHEA can be made here.

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Welcome to the Web

Welcome to the Web

Alberta Education's Home Education webpage has been updated in response to AHEA's feedback. Home educators should find the refreshed information reflective of the current options available to them. AHEA has been pleased to collaborate with the Alberta Department of Education to ensure that families starting to consider home education will have the clarity of content they need, provided in a welcoming expression that reflects our community. Stay tuned for an update on the Home Education Handbook this fall!

Please make sure to refer new home educators to AHEA's own website for more helpful information and to stay up-to-date on the advocacy work that AHEA does year-round on their behalf. They will also want to be informed about future events like the annual AHEA Convention, looked forward to by families from across the province, with inspiring speakers and a large exhibit hall to browse.

AHEA is a not-for-profit organization that appreciates the support of the community.
Donations to AHEA can be made here

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