With COVID-19 cases rising rapidly, including amongst school-aged children, New Democrat Leader Ryan Meili and Education Critic Carla Beck called today for a sharp change in approach from the Sask. Party government.
“This Premier and former Education Minister Gord Wyant left Saskatchewan families with the worst back-to-school plan in Canada,” said Meili. “Now with a second wave hitting the province, it is time to take real action in our schools that should have been in place for months.”
Beck noted that active cases for youth have increased from 31 to 286 from the beginning of October to the beginning of November (an 823% increase), and the test positivity rate has grown from 1.5% to 5.2%.
“In July, we presented a seven-point plan to keep our kids safe, while the government was creating chaos and confusion for schools, educators and families,” said Beck. “The government has not acted in any meaningful manner as case numbers have grown, putting the school year at risk. Saskatchewan families deserve to see a plan to keep schools open in a safe manner. If the government does not act to prevent school closures, the economic effect on families and the educational and social effects on children will be astronomical.”
Specifically, New Democrats are calling for:
- Provincial coordination of the movement between COVID-19 levels, instead of leaving the decision to school divisions who are facing extraordinary pressures
- A detailed account of the plans for outstanding schools money, including the remaining $37.5 million in funding on the table for the federal government
- Ruling out any clawback of funding to school divisions based on enrollment in this pandemic year
- Dedicated COVID-19 testing and tracing capacity for schools and daycares
- Working with employers and others to ensure work-from-home protocols are established in order to assure a smooth transition should home-learning be necessary in Saskatchewan in the coming months.
“No one wants another lockdown, or school closures of any duration. As a parent of young children I want my kids in school and daycare,” said Meili. “But the disappointing and downright dangerous lack of action to date by the Provincial government makes an urgent conversation around our schools doubly necessary. We have to act now to protect our kids, our schools and our economy.”