This morning, NDP Education Critic Carla Beck called on Premier Scott Moe to take responsibility for the Sask. Party government’s failed back-to-school plan and take real action to address class size in September.
“The Premier has called on teachers, parents and children as young as six, to take responsibility for their own safety, while taking no responsibility himself for the chaos his government has caused. He has no plan and no clue what to do – and families are paying the price,” said Beck. “The medical consensus is clear: smaller class sizes will be necessary in this unprecedented school year. Passing the buck to school divisions doesn’t cut it: the Premier must act.”
With the clock ticking, school divisions have no answers on whether they will receive additional funding from the $40M the province belatedly shifted from the contingency fund earlier this week. Prairie South School Division Board Chair Robert Bachmann told media yesterday that it was unclear if school divisions would actually receive any of that funding due to unnecessarily strict provincial requirements:
"He said it remains unclear what, if any, additional funding Prairie South will receive from the $40 million announced by the provincial government a few days ago. With a good chunk said to be earmarked for PPE and distance learning, Bachmann said he isn’t certain how much each division would get — if they can get any at all. Bachmann said school divisions have been told they need to use up any savings they have from the past few months before they’ll be able to successfully apply for the newly announced funding."
Beck emphasized that crowded classrooms are a problem across the province, in both urban and rural schools. Prairie South has reported 52 classes with more than 28 students, while South East Cornerstone reports six classrooms with more than 40 students and 85 classrooms with more than 30 students. The government used to report these numbers province-wide, but now isn’t even keeping track. As of a year ago, 20 schools across the province were operating at more than 120% capacity, and 70 at more than 100%, meaning nearly 13% of schools province-wide were over capacity last year.
Beck said that these numbers fly in the face of provincial public health orders, which mandate less than 30 people in an indoor gathering.
“When safety mandates that the rest of the province is limited to a maximum of 30 people, there is no way that classrooms should have more than that,” Beck said. “In his recent announcements the Premier has been doing political damage control instead of doing the hard work to lower class sizes for September. For the safety and security of every single person in this province, the Premier needs to end the chaos for Saskatchewan families.”