The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the provincial government to commit the resources needed to support kids through a safe reopening and commit to limiting class size and ensuring adequate supports for students to learn safely. The provincial government has announced that schools will reopen in September but has provided no details on funding or safety measures to protect students and teachers.
“Parents have been working so hard to keep our kids learning with schools closed, and I know that we’re all ready to get back to normal,” said NDP Education critic Carla Beck. “But the ‘new normal’ for Saskatchewan schools can’t look like the ‘old normal’ of 50 kids to a classroom and three to a school bus seat. The Sask. Party has underfunded our schools for years, leaving kids and teachers struggling in crowded and complex classrooms. In order to ensure that we reopen safely, now’s the time to commit to smaller class sizes and adequate supports for our kids.”
The Sask. Party used to monitor maximum class sizes, but stopped keeping track when numbers began to rise. Saskatchewan does not publicly report how many kids are in Saskatchewan classrooms.
The Saskatchewan NDP has committed that no kid in Kindergarten to Grade 3 should go to school in a class of more than 24 kids. With social distancing limits in effect, even that is going to be difficult to manage in many classrooms, making the question of class size not just a matter of public education, but public health.
“This is a government that refused to commit to addressing class size and composition at the bargaining table,” said Beck. “Instead, they struck a committee. Well it’s time for that committee to start working overtime on a plan to reduce the crowding in our classrooms.”
With a four-year contract with teachers now ratified, the NDP has also called on the government to commit to fully fund the pay increase, and not leave divisions to pick up the tab.