INNISFAIL - A new six-member, multi-stakeholder provincial panel, including an associate superintendent from Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD), will work to understand the psychological, social, educational and physical impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and youth, say officials.
The Child and Youth Well-Being Review Panel will consult with parents and children and review data and expertise from researchers, educators, health-care professionals and mental health experts.
It will make recommendations to the provincial government with the aim of helping support young people now and going forward.
Panel member Marcie Perdue is associate superintendent, student services with CESD. She calls the panel’s work vital.
“We’ve been seeing those impacts all year,” said Perdue. “We have been seeing the anxiety levels of our kids going up.
“I’m pretty excited to be on the panel and be able to look at some of the research across the province and see what are some of the areas that have been impacted and then come up with some recommendations.”
The recommendations coming out of the panel’s work will be focused on helping young people and their families who have been impacted by the pandemic, she said.
“We are looking at impact and what is happening with families now,” she said. “We are looking at identifying the themes so that we can then give those recommendations and themes to the government, so that they can support what is happening after the pandemic and look at what kind of supports they can put in place for families.
“Anything that I hear from the panel that I can support in our division I will move forward with those pieces, and I’m hoping that I will also be able to share some of what I’ve seen in our division as part of the data we are collecting,” she said.
The panel’s work will also include conducting a public survey and hosting town halls. Residents interested in providing input to the panel through the survey can find it at alberta.ca/child-and-youth-wll-being-review-aspx until July 31.
Other panel members include Kelly Schwartz, associate professor with School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Alberta, and Jennifer Turner, superintendent of schools with the Fort McMurray Public School Division.
Rebecca Schulz, minister of Children’s Services, said there is no doubt that the pandemic has impacted students of all ages.
“The pandemic has deeply affected all of our lives, and we know this is true for children and youth as well,” said Schulz. “Preliminary research has shown increased anxiety, mental health concerns and young kids not meeting developmental milestones.”
Health Minister Tyler Shandro added, “The expert panel’s summary will help use move forward to help ensure our kids have a healthy and promising future while they grow and develop.”
The panel’s recommendations are expected to be presented to the government this fall.
The 11,000 CESD includes schools in Mountain View and Red Deer counties.