NDP Education Critic Carla Beck was joined by Elya Lam, a mother with serious concerns about sending two of her four children to school in the fall, and Saskatoon small business owner Lindsay Sanderson who has a child who should be entering kindergarten, to call for adequate guidelines and necessary funding for students and teachers to return to schools safely.
“I have heard from many teachers and parents from throughout the province and there is hope and a willingness to have students back in the classroom this fall, but there are still many blanks that have not been filled out by the Sask. Party,” Beck said. “This government has completely failed the people of Saskatchewan when it comes to coming up with a plan and properly funding student’s and teachers’ return to the classroom in the fall.”
“It’s important that we reopen our schools, but it has to be done in a way that is safe for students, teachers and parents,” said Lam, a former teacher with the Saskatoon Public School Division. “That won’t be the case unless the province implements stronger governmental regulations and increases funding. We need our government to be proactive. Failure to get our school reopenings right could have tragic consequences.”
“Without proper guidelines, the government’s plan gives me no certainty about what plans to make with my business and my child possibly entering Kindergarten,” said Sanderson. “The lack of a plan leaves women throughout the province out of the workforce in large numbers. I am just one of the many mothers being forced to choose between the mental and physical health of our children, and our careers.”
In their plan to send children back into classrooms, the government did not include any new funding that wasn’t already penciled in for education before the pandemic hit. Other provinces, as opposed to Saskatchewan, have plans that include having reduced class sizes. Other provinces also include plans for different scenarios whereas Saskatchewan is only planning for the best-case scenario.
Beck said she has heard from many teachers who have concerns with not being given any proper guidelines on how to social distance in their classroom when they have too many students in their class to do so.
“Prior to the pandemic we had concerns about overcrowding in classrooms, about the lack of resources in the classroom – those problems are only exasperated by the lack of funding and an adequate plan from the government,” Beck said. “The government needs to step up with funding today to ensure the well being and safety of students at the centre, where parents and teachers are given a clear idea of what to expect as September draws closer.”