NDP says COVID back to school plan is muddled

Regina – Saskatchewan NDP education critic Regina-Lakeview MLA Carla Beck said on Aug. 12 that after three government press conferences in a week addressing a COVID-19 back-to-school strategy, the education minister has “somehow managed to further muddle directions about school reopening in the fall.”

On Aug 11, Education Minister and Deputy Premier Gord Wyant announced that school divisions will have the ultimate say in determining what level of restrictions schools would implement. The province was recommending schools starting at Level 2 on a four-level scale, but not mandating it.

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Beck said, “As we go back to school in the fall, and also renew our calls for the convening of the Human Services Committee to get to as quickly as possible to uncover the and provide some clarity around, around this very process that we've seen so far. Yesterday I expected to hear some clear direction from the minister about masking. Instead, what we got was further confusion. We, on Friday, heard from the minister that the chief medical health officer would make the decision about when to move to Phase 1 or Phase 2 or Phase 3 or Phase 4 of the plan, and then yesterday he seemed to go back on that and leave it up to school divisions.”

She repeatedly pointed out that there are only two weeks before school starts, and these items should have been addressed at least a month ago, if not earlier.

“It feels very much like the clock is ticking. September 1 is coming upon us very, very quickly,” she said, noting parents and staff members are trying to make decisions for themselves, and their careers in the fall.

The NDP is calling for smaller class sizes. Beck said the Province should provide what maximum class sizes, or at least reasonable class sizes, should be. She noted some jurisdictions have limited class sizes to 15, or cut current class sizes by half.

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