NDP Leader Ryan Meili and Education Critic Carla Beck were joined by Lynne Saas, a former teacher and school administrator as well as Director of Education for Scenic Valley and Prairie Valley school divisions, to call for a real plan that supports immunocompromised students and school staff and fills the need for additional off-site spaces.
“This is the worst plan in Canada. We’re only weeks away from schools reopening and there’s no consistent plan or funding to keep the students at greatest risk safe,” said Meili. “It’s clear, that securing the off-site spaces that would help make this possible was not a government priority. School divisions are doing their best, but they have been let down by this Education Minister and this Premier.”
Meili noted that with no government funding or support, Saskatchewan families are left with a patchwork of different plans across the same park, between two towns just down the road and even in the same facility in the case of joint-use schools.
“This government’s plan fails to meet their legal responsibility to ensure all kids, especially those for whom a COVID-19 infection could be-life threatening, have a safe learning environment,” said Saas, who also worked as a consultant for the Special Education Branch of Sask Education as well as a consultant for special needs students for several Saskatchewan school divisions. “Parents shouldn’t be forced to make the difficult choice of either sending their at-risk child to a maskless school or forego the benefits of a school environment.”
The seven-point plan released by the NDP last week outlined the need for clear procedures for what to do when students or staff test positive or have symptoms and to ensure processes are in place to quickly communicate potential school-based or community-specific outbreaks to families. It also highlighted the need to identify alternate and distance learning, including using unused spaces close to schools for those teachers and students who are immunocompromised.
Beck said the Sask. Party’s plan doesn’t provide either.
“The Sask. Party prefers downloading responsibility to school divisions. Without clear guidelines or even additional funding, they will be flying blind, leaving students and teachers at risk,” Beck said. “Students, school staff and parents deserve a plan that will keep them safe, but what’s been seen from this government has left families frustrated and confused. It’s unacceptable.”