Education Critic Carla Beck Renews Calls for Human Services Committee to deal with overcrowded classes

Following yesterday’s disastrous non-announcement by Education Minister Gord Wyant, which left families and school divisions even more frustrated and confused, NDP Education Critic Carla Beck underscored the need to address crowded classrooms in school reopening, and re-iterated her call for the Human Services Committee to address the province’s failed return-to school plan. Beck pointed to the government’s unacceptable refusal to reduce class sizes during the COVID-19 pandemic as a crucial step that must be addressed.

“Masks or no masks, 40 or 50 kids in a classroom is a problem, especially during a pandemic. Yesterday Gord Wyant downloaded responsibility onto school divisions once again, instructing them to find ‘creative solutions’ to address physical distancing and cohorting, while refusing to provide any additional funding that could help reduce class sizes,” said Beck. “Doctors and parents are telling us that physical distancing in schools is crucial, and that means smaller class sizes. Premier Scott Moe and Education Minister Gord Wyant have failed our kids by ignoring this urgent issue.”

Beck noted that the government used to publish maximum class size, but now isn’t even keeping track.  

“When we have 20 schools in the province at more than 120 percent capacity, and 70 with more than 100 percent capacity, people are understandably concerned,” said Beck. “Parents need to know which schools specifically are over capacity, what is the plan to manage those capacity issues in September, and what can be done between now and then to reduce class sizes across the board?”

Beck added that families also deserve to know which schools will be relying on portables for students to learn in. Portables often rely on re-circulated air and do not have washrooms or hand-washing stations – a major concern identified by medical professionals.

“Gord Wyant gave us the worst plan in Canada – and then only further muddied the waters yesterday,” said Beck. “Families, teachers and school staff deserve clarity and a well-resourced plan that works to keep people safe from this government that is letting people down.”