With schools set to reopen in mere weeks, Saskatchewan’s parents, teachers and students are still in the dark about how schools will reopen safely and school divisions are left struggling to implement the government’s unclear, inadequate and constantly changing “guidelines” and “plans.” 

“The moment schools were closed in March is the moment Scott Moe and his government should have begun planning for a safe reopening,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “They’ve had five months to put a plan in place. This last-minute, eleventh-hour scrambling shows how they failed to do their job. Now parents, teachers and school divisions are left scrambling at the last minute because Scott Moe failed to take school reopening seriously.”

Even with a last-minute $40 million infusion, per-student funding this coming year will still be lower than it was in 2016. 

“Scott Moe is out fundraising on the golf course this morning because the Sask. Party laid out clear guidelines for golf courses reopening. We all wish they had paid the same attention to the reopening of our schools,” said NDP Education critic Carla Beck. “I’ll be listening closely to the details of their fourth swing at delivering some kind of plan, but the fact that they’ve been forced at this late date to push back the first day of school is evidence enough that today’s announcements are too little, too late.”

 

Timeline:

  • March 20: Schools are closed indefinitely.
  • June 3: “Crowded classes are a public health concern”: NDP says more teachers and EAs are crucial to reopening plan.”
  • June 15: The summer legislative sitting begins.
  • June 16: Meili asks about the plan for reopening schools. Moe says: “Mr. Speaker, with respect to education, and again the largest education budget in the province, you’re going to see a number of infrastructure projects that’ll come along. There is a plan that is coming together, Mr. Speaker, a plan that is involving all of our stakeholders, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that our children can not only get back into the classroom this fall but ensure that they get back into our classrooms safely.”
  • June 17: Beck asks about funding for schools. Wyant says: “Mr. Speaker, it is impossible for me to say at the present time what additional resources are going to be needed in the fall. Many things can change between now and when children go back to school in the fall, Mr. Speaker. But I can tell you this, Mr. Speaker, we will ensure that the resourcing in the classroom, the instruction in the classroom is not going to be affected by COVID-19, Mr. Speaker. We will have a safe plan. If the member waits till tomorrow, we will be releasing the details of the plan with respect to children going back to school, Mr. Speaker. A plan that’s been worked on by Public Health, the Ministry of Education, and the resource planning team. We’re very comfortable with where we’re at with the plan, Mr. Speaker. We can assure the parents of this province that their children will be safe in schools.”
  • June 19: Beck asks, Wyant responds: “There are certainly some operational issues that need to be worked out, Mr. Speaker. The Ministry of Education will work with the response planning team and school divisions to make sure that those operational things are in place for the return to school in the fall, Mr. Speaker.”
  • June 22: NDP presses Sask. Party for details, funding commitments to support school reopening plan.
  • June 25: Beck asks about school re-opening: “He says the guidelines are expected to be followed where possible. Does the minister understand that it is his job to create a plan to keep students and teachers safe at all times, not just where possible?”  Wyant responds, “Mr. Speaker, the members opposite continually stand on their feet. All they’re doing is trying to create fear and panic with the parents and the teachers in our community, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we have a set of guidelines that has been prepared by the chief medical health officer, Mr. Speaker. Those guidelines are clear, Mr. Speaker. They will be used by the response planning team to work out a plan so children can return to school in the fall in a safe way — and the chief medical health officer has said this — in as normal a way as possible, Mr. Speaker. Now these guidelines are very flexible, Mr. Speaker, but I think it’s pretty clear that the guidelines are intended to make sure that children return to school in a safe way.”
  • June 26: NDP calls for a real plan for school re-opening.
  • June 26: RM asks about funding to support reopening schools, Moe responds: “I would also say that that work is funded adequately, Mr. Speaker, with $2.57 billion going into our Ministry of Education this particular year, Mr. Speaker.”
  • June 30: “‘Just trust us’ isn’t good enough for people worried about their jobs, their schools, their healthcare”: NDP pushes for complete budget before election.
  • June 30, Meili and Beck ask about safe school reopening. Wyant responds, “Mr. Speaker, the guidelines that have been provided to us by the chief medical health officer are just those — they’re guidelines, to help ensure that children return to school in the fall safely, Mr. Speaker. They’re aimed at ensuring that we protect our children and our teachers and all the other educational professionals in the classroom, Mr. Speaker. The response planning team has been excellent in providing guidance on a number of issues, Mr. Speaker. And as I’ve said, the return-to-school plans from schools and school divisions are due today, Mr. Speaker.”
  • July 22: Beck, parents call for clear guidelines and funding for return to classroom plan.
  • July 24: NDP, parents of immunocompromised children call for adequate return to classroom plan.
  • July 29: NDP lays out seven priorities for safe school reopening.
  • August 4: Government announces back-to-school plan, makes several more announcements over the following days as public backlash and outrage grows. 
  • August 4: “Not a plan for schools - a plan to fail”: NDP responds to Sask. Party return to classroom update.
  • August 5: NDP call on government to revise and resubmit their failed return-to-school plan.
  • August 6: Statement from NDP Education Critic Carla Beck on the Sask. Party hiding from criticism, making things worse on school sanitation and disinfection.
  • August 7: Worst plan in Canada fails the most vulnerable: Saskatchewan NDP and former Director of Education Lynne Sass.
  • August 11: Beck Declares Back-to-School Plan a Failure, Calls for Human Services Committee to Reconvene to Fix It. 
  • August 12: Education Critic Carla Beck Renews Calls for Human Services Committee to deal with overcrowded classes.
  • August 13: Education Minister Gord Wyant Gaslighting School Divisions, Families: NDP.
  • August 14: NDP warns of economic risk of getting school reopening wrong.
  • August 15: ‘Too little, too late’: NDP slams Sask. Party damage control efforts on school-reopening fiasco.