NDP voices opposition to supposed flaws in return to school plan

Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

The opposition NDP is not happy with the look of the province’s return to school plan announced on Tuesday by Minister of Education Gord Wyant. The opposition announced their own plan last week and accused the government of passing the buck to school divisions in the plan. 

“So what you have got is a minister, a government that is failing the test and passing the buck trying to say that it is up to individual school divisions to make all of these decisions without clear guidance of how to do so and without any resources to support divisions that are already underfunded,” NDP leader Ryan Meili said.  

“I’m really concerned that what we have got is a plan that is being left up to the school divisions and so will not be the same across the board and I hope that is the case that there are enough funds but that is not what we have been hearing,” Meili said 

Meili explained that he heard what has been common that parents and teachers are not happy with the plan as presented. This comes after other provinces also released updated plans. 

“Weeks later after every province has released updated plans out comes the Sask party with a plan that doesn’t allay any of those fears or anxieties that people are feeling out across Saskatchewan. 

Last week the NDP released a list of what to get right because they believe that reopening education is a key to getting every other part of reopening correct. Meili called for all seven things in the announcement last week by the NDP. 

One major part of the NDP’s  plan called for a phased approach which called for planning for scenarios including low case transmissions, which would allow for full in-person learning, increased community transmission which would make a hybrid approach necessary and for high caseloads which would require a similar situation as to what occurred in March. The phased in approach exists in the government’s plan but the NDP sees no clear directions. 

“And what was missing in the government’s plan that is really confusing is no thresholds whatsoever to say when we would go from one part of the plan, one phase of the plan to the next. And you really have a situation where without all of these supports, without all of these steps being taken and without clear thresholds for when changes will be made. You have parents and teachers flying blind and this is why they are rightly irritated,” Meili said. 

Meili also called for corrections on alleged testing flaws. 

“That has to be fixed we need to be able to turn around testing if we are going to be able to keep students and teachers in the classroom,” Meili said. 

The NDP also believes that this is part of a larger pattern by the ruling Saskatchewan Party. 

“We also need to recognize that the Sask Party has been failing on education long before yesterday. And this minister has been overseeing a system where we are seeing increasingly crowded and complex classrooms for years. And now aside from sending kids into a situation that was bad for education. Now that situation is bad for their health as well. We need to get those class sizes down,” Meili said. 

They also reiterated a call for dedicated funding for the return to class which was also not part of the plan as well as clear guidance for distance learning and other matters that may arise. 

“This is key to us doing well going forward when it comes to COVID and when it comes to schools and when it comes to our economy they need to get this right and so far they have failed the test, school is coming the deadline is quick we want them to take this homework back and fix it right away. Bring back a new plan that instead of being the worst plan in Canada, which is what we have seen, instead of failing an open book test, will actually keep our kids and our classrooms safe,”  Meili said.