As the province lays out conditions for school closures to arrest the spread of COVID-19, the Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the government to commit to supports for school workers who need to self-isolate while schools remain open, and supports for families and staff in the event of closure.
“Given the criteria put out by the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the pattern of spread, schools will close in Saskatchewan,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “It’s a matter of not if, but when, which means the time to be preparing is now. We’re calling on the government to do everything they can to minimize and mitigate the risks in schools today, and to prepare all necessary supports for eventual closure.”
“In the short term, that means ensuring adequate cleaning supplies and staffing levels for schools, allowing any staff needing to self-isolate because of illness or recent travel to do so without drawing down sick days, and providing accommodations for families who choose to proactively keep their children at home,” said Meili.
The NDP is also calling on the government to rapidly put the supports in place to ensure that disruptions for families and staff in the event of school closures are kept to a minimum. Specifically, the NDP called for wage support for caregivers who miss work due to school closure; assurances that teachers, support staff and daycare workers will continue to be paid if their facilities are closed; and support for children who depend on school lunches for their food security.
“Our kids’ schools are vital to the health of our communities,” said NDP Education Critic Carla Beck. “Especially in this difficult time, we need to be pulling out all the stops to ensure that teachers and childcare workers have the support they need to keep our kids safe and healthy. At the same time, we need to be putting the supports in place to ensure that we can manage school closures safely and with minimal disruption to the lives of children and families.”