REGINA - In light of a growing list of schools impacted by the Omicron variant in the first week of school and the lack of any plan from the Sask. Party, Official Opposition Leader Ryan Meili and Opposition Education Critic Carla Beck announced the Opposition’s Safe Schools Strategy with concrete measures to reduce sickness, curb transmission, and ensure safety in our schools.
“We need a concrete plan, not a flowchart for what to do once you’re a close contact or already sick. Everyone wants to keep schools open, but we must take decisive action,” said Beck. “Sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the realities taking place across Canada and around the world is not a strategy. We need all hands on deck to tackle this fifth wave and protect our students.”
Beck noted that in the past, the Provincial Response Planning Team coordinated the efforts of the Ministry of Education, school divisions, the STF, and other education organisations. Beck calls on the government to reconvene this team to coordinate and deploy the strategy immediately.
SAFE SCHOOLS STRATEGY
To keep Saskatchewan schools open, we must keep schools safe and families healthy. Along with implementing community-wide measures to decrease viral transmission, we must take the following steps in our schools.
Keeping schools open:
- Publicly report school outbreaks and absenteeism of students and staff
- Hire retired, substitute, and casual school staff full-time through fifth wave
- Implement evidence-based isolation policies to prevent outbreaks
- Outline clear metrics that would trigger remote learning
Protecting staff and students:
- Bring back school-based vaccination programs
- Roll out robust public and school-based vaccine promotion campaign
- Immediately distribute N95 masks for students and school staff
- Ensure proper ventilation in every classroom - immediate temporary measures and permanent changes.
Supporting school families:
- Provide resources to support school-based contact tracing and case management
- Communicate clearly with families
- Develop a provincial online rapid test tracker for self-reporting.
- Ensure parents can stay home and stay healthy with guaranteed paid sick days