Serving the Home Education community.

Blog

Alberta Home Education Association

Keep up to date with everything going on in our province!

Step 2: Update to Public Health Measures

Accessing Off-Site Facilities A door has opened... accessing off-site facilities.

AHEA continues to work with the Alberta Department of Education, voicing concerns and sharing examples of issues faced in the home education community. They are the ones interacting directly with Alberta Health Services on behalf of students across the province. Please note the wording is 'home education co-ops' and/or 'supportive group learning environments.'   You may wish to review prior articles on this blog for helpful clarification and action items. AHEA's work continues unabated and your joint efforts and action assist us greatly. 

Here is the latest update from the Deputy Minister of Education for your review...

"Step 2 of Alberta's four-step framework to carefully ease COVID-19 restrictions took effect on March 1. The changes to public health measures included the authorization of low-intensity indoor fitness activities and the reopening of libraries with restrictions.

On March 8, 2021, CMOH Order 05-2021 was signed to amend CMOH Order 04-2021. Both orders provide further clarity for local facilities to support student learning, and eases a number of restrictions for activities permitted under Steps 1 and 2 on The Path Forward for Albertans. For education, the new Order does not change the ability for school authorities and home education co-ops/supportive group learning environments outside of homes to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) for physical education or performance/performance arts programs.

In addition, section 82.7 of CMOH Order 05-2021 provides home education co-ops/supportive group learning environments with the ability to meet in approved off-site facilities for an activity that is not curriculum based, but related to youth development.

As a reminder, in addition to monitoring hospitalizations, Alberta's government will also be monitoring other metrics, including case numbers, growth rate and the impacts of COVID-19 variants, to guide any decisions regarding the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.

Joint home education co-op activities/supportive group learning environments outside of their homes must continue to adhere to the following health measures that also apply to schools.

  • Parents and students engaging in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their homes must use the appropriate Alberta Health Daily Checklist and adhere to recommendations of the Zone Medical Officer of Health or designate, including having a responsible adult within each cohort to identify close contacts should there be a case of COVID-19 identified within the cohort.
  • Parents and students choosing to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their homes, (e.g., community hall or rental facility) will be considered a cohort and must follow the cohorting guidance in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.
  • Parents and students 10 years of age and older (Grades 4 and older) who choose to engage in joint learning activities with other home education families outside of their home must wear a non-medical face mask in accordance with the masking requirements in school (CMOH Order 33-2020).
  • Parents are required to develop procedures outlining hand hygiene requirements and follow enhanced cleaning, disinfecting guidance in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.
  • Parents and students must follow the physical distancing guidelines in the COVID-19 information: Guidance for schools on re-entry scenario 1.

Please note that cohorts should be maintained for learning based on outdoor play, recess and outdoor learning activities. Indoor and outdoor learning activities must take place in facilities only and not in homes as the indoor and outdoor social gatherings and performance activities restrictions remain in place.

The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."

REMINDER: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best.

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.

  416 Hits
416 Hits

Home Educators Accessing Off-Site Facilities

Accessing Off-Site Facilities A door has opened... accessing off-site facilities.

AHEA was notified today of further changes to freedoms that home educating families have under the current guidelines. We continue to work with the Department of Education on your behalf. We are all functioning under the Department of Health's oversight in this matter.

The health orders can be difficult to follow and context is critical. I am pleased to note that the previous definition of 'school' in CMOH Order 42-2020 Sec. 33 (c) (i), which specifically excluded home education, has been amended. Today's CMOH Order 02-2021 Sec. 55 (b) and (c) corrects the misconception that home education and the children are 'social gatherings,' not learning environments and students as well. While AHEA prefers to see home education noted as being a unique educational model in most circumstances, it is being broadly associated with other educational models for clarity here. This is significant because we can now ensure that you are able to read the Orders as they apply to 'schools' as distinct from 'the public' and know that they apply to you. Items covered in our last advisory remain in place (like cohorting for recess) unless specifically changed.

The Key is Cohorting Groups

When we are interacting as a cohort group, like a classroom that exceeds 10 students, we are able to take certain actions that are not permissible for the general public. This means that if you are able to maintain your learning bubble, not intermingling with the public, you can be in the places that are prohibited under Appendix A Sections 1-3 for the purposes of your educational learning/activities. Some discretion will be required of course, but a business that is closed to the public that has space you could utilize may be open to your creative educational use. As long as you are able to maintain your cohorting group and not be mingling with the public, you are allowed to book and use facilities. If you note a school can be in a facility, you may as well.

The Deputy Minister helpfully advised of the changes to public health measures for education relate to indoor and outdoor children's sport and performance activities, and provides additional clarity on their application to home education. You may quote this in your interactions with facilities/businesses or AHS staff as needed:

"School authorities and home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments outside of homes will now have the flexibility to access off-site facilities (public or otherwise) where access is limited to home students and parents from home education co-ops / supportive group learning environments. Activities are split into two distinct categories:

Home education or course-based activities

Physical education or performance/performance arts programs that are taking place in off-site facilities (e.g. curling rinks, skating rinks, community halls, auditoriums, community theatres, museums and galleries) where students remain in their cohort. These activities must follow all health protocols in place since the beginning of the school year.

Non-home education or course-based group physical activities including athletics

Extra-curricular activities where students are mixing with other students who are not part of their regular cohort. Restrictions on these activities are:

  • A maximum of 10 individuals, including all coaches, trainers and participants, can participate.
  • All participants must maintain physical distancing from each other at all times.
  • Participants must be masked at all times, except when engaged in the physical activity.
  • Coaches and trainers must remain masked at all times.
  • There must be limited access to change rooms, including for accelerated and strictly distanced arrival and departure, for emergencies and for washroom use.

The complete list of approved off-site facilities is provided in sections 1, 2 and 3 of Appendix A of CMOH Order 02-2021 CMOH Order 02-2021 .

Additional information on these changes can be found within the new CMOH Order 02-2021. Metrics based on cases and growth, including COVID-19 variants, are being monitored and will also be used to guide any decisions around the need to pause further steps or potentially increase restrictions.

Please note that the health measures for joint home education co-op activities / supportive group learning environments outside of their homes previously articulated must continue to be adhered to.

The safety of students remains our top priority throughout the school year."

AHEA NOTES: Your continued and vocal efforts to draw attention to any concerns and hardships your families are experiencing are critical. They encourage those we are speaking with to continue evaluating and revising the current policies. Your ability to care for and educate your children is your responsibility as home education parents. AHEA encourages you to do all you can to make decisions for your family to function in the way that you deem best. 

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.

  698 Hits
698 Hits

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

  2134 Hits
2134 Hits

Living Within A Lockdown

21.01.Living-Within-A-Lockdown Children are struggling with isolation, and parents are worried.

Parents have not only been processing the demands of the lockdown personally but assessing how it has been affecting their family – and more specifically, their children. The costs have been real in a multitude of ways throughout our society. And there is a very specific concern about the effects of the drawn-out lockdown on children that we need to address.

"According to pediatric disease specialist Dr. Ari Joffe, children living through the COVID-19 lockdowns are often facing family financial stress, family violence, loneliness, hunger, inactivity, and disrupted educational opportunities. This will result in "permanent profound impacts on their future quality of life, educational achievement, earning potential, lifespan, and health care utilization.""[i]

No one is living a 'normal' life – including home educators. Although we all are generally used to being together more than most families, and have likely coped better because of it, my son quipped that all the worry about home educated students not getting socialized has now become a government enforced mandate. A lack of socialization is hardly something that any home educating parent ever intends to be true, and in fact, it has been proven to be false for decades, even though the question is often still something we get asked. Studies have shown that the civic participation of adults that were home educated are higher than the comparable population.[ii] These activities do not suddenly start after they graduate, but are instilled in our children as they are brought up, covering participation areas that include political, sports, cultural, religious and community, service and more.

The lockdown mandates have been very stressful for some home educating families from the beginning due to various circumstances, but concern has been growing as the health orders have been extended from the initial two-week request. A parent's patience and desire to be a good citizen has been challenged by the isolation effects they are seeing in their children. AHEA parents are used to being able to make wise decisions about the welfare of their children. Having their ability to help them thrive curtailed, and in a way that lacked the civic process we are proud to regularly participate in, has been chaffing. Always an active population, this has now resulted in calls to their MLA's and various government offices in increasing numbers.

AHEA has been in communication with the Education Department and the Education Minister's office to highlight the concerns we have for our home education community's children. Our efforts have focused on a realistic, specific and healthy solution to this problem of isolation. Home education is a different model than the public-school model, and we require clear direction that applies to us. Interestingly, we are joined in this grey zone by another group that is being forced to experience this – public school distance learners. Therefore, we feel that there should be language that allows for different supportive learning situations. This includes more than 'a co-op,' as the current exceptions for those going to the school buildings or in school co-ops are not unquestioningly applicable to other scenarios.

AHEA has also stated that we would be unwilling to have home education families required to agree to further regulations or oversight for their children to have the freedom to interact with other children. Some families have been concerned that this is the cost that may be required to regain their ability to interact. AHEA believes in the individual, God-given responsibility of parents to do what is in the best interests of our children, and appreciate our Section 2 Charter Rights to our freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. Home education children are used to going to extra-curricular activities, music lessons, sports, clubs, and things as simple as the playground. Children of all ages need to interact, not only those in some models on a school playground.

Home education has received no covid related supports yet that AHEA is aware of. While we have been patiently waiting are response on our outstanding request for support due to the unprecedented growth, we feel that this reasonable request to address our children's social interactions is critical to see movement on shortly. We have further asked that the government speak in terms of a number of families, not a specific number of people, to accommodate different family sizes. Each family is unique and we support a range from those with a single child to those with larger families. We note that the government's guidelines in the school re-entry documents define a cohort as, "A COVID-19 cohort, also referred to as a bubble, circle, or safe squad, is a small group whose members are always the same people, and who do not always keep two meters apart. Cohorts in schools will generally be the size of one class."[iii] We need similar flexibility for our children so we can fulfill education plans made in the fall.

AHEA has been informed that the Minister and her staff at the Alberta Education department are currently working out the details to address this. They have said that they have received polite and respectful, yet firm and persistent, calls from parents. You are making a difference by reaching out to them, as well as calling your MLA's to lay the groundwork of support that is needed to ensure this is actionable.

AHEA is determined and expectant, and will be informed of a decision in short order. We are all working together to address the issue, and where there is a will there is a way. Stay tuned for the next turn in what has become our 'corporate life story,' and please continue to push for changes that will let us get back to our individual ones. It was ever so much more interesting when there was not a common narrator!


HELP US HELP YOU – SUPPORT AHEA TODAY!


[i] https://tnc.news/2021/01/17/just-the-facts-the-harms-of-the-lockdown/?fbclid=IwAR2lXGlj3BXapPxLFQKn6Eq8lHjhErtkKByXXfS8GMFufNG1jiEQPrYy9DQ

[ii] https://cche.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2009StudyPrint-1.pdf, pg. 4

[iii] https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/41e1a5ec-7069-45cc-a3a5-6ff0b26a98a6/resource/ecf3c2c9-b3f5-4c8a-b076-0237cf95d720/download/edc-resource-guide-covid-19-cases-school-settings-2021-01.pdf pg. 5.

  1117 Hits
1117 Hits
Cron Job Starts