Province extends Interim Education Plan through 2022-2023

Herald File Photo

The Government of Saskatchewan announced on Wednesday that it has extended the Interim Provincial Education Plan for the 2022-23 school year.

The interim plan was developed in 2021-22 to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Work will continue on the long-term provincial education plan through this year, with an implementation date of fall 2023.

“The Government of Saskatchewan is committed to supporting students and staff as we return to school this fall,” Education Minister Dustin Duncan said. “The interim plan will continue to emphasize the three key educational priorities for this school year as we work to finalize the full education plan for the next decade.”

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division endorsed the plan in May, with the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division following in June.

The Interim Provincial Education Plan will focus on three key priorities: mental health supports for students and staff, supports for reading instruction in Grade 1 to 5 students, and supportive learning opportunities for all students.

The first priority involves creating mental health and well-being plans for each school division. School divisions are expected to share their knowledge about support services and programming with each other.

The 2022-23 Budget provides $603,000, an increase of $25,000, to support bullying prevention plans and to promote positive mental health and student safety.

In addition, The Government of Saskatchewan continues to offer Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training to school divisions, in a continuing focus of having at least one staff member trained in each school in Saskatchewan’s 27 school divisions. This makes Mental Health First Aid available to students when needed, similar to physical first aid.

As of June 2022, 926 staff received training and 733 out of 736 schools have at least one individual trained in MHFA.

Using the three priorities, school divisions and participating First Nations education authorities will build their own plans in order to support their students and schools. 

The Interim Plan was created in collaboration with school divisions and participating First Nations education authorities, representatives from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan (MN-S), STF Professional Learning and senior Ministry of Education officials

The provincial government has also directed Saskatchewan school divisions to focus on four pillars identified pre-COVID as the divisions prepares their own education delivery plan. Those pillars are skills, mental health and well-being, relationships, and inclusive and safe schools.

Saskatchewan Rivers director of education Robert Bratvold is part of the mental health and well-being group working on the plan.

In June, Bratvold anticipated that the long-term plan would be done around January or February of 2023 and will still run until 2030, making it in effect a seven-year plan.

“That’s still up in the air,” Bratvold said. “It was originally supposed to be a 2020 to 2030 plan. I’m not sure if we are going to extend it into 2032 or not, but it will be ready sort of the middle of the year next year, hopefully January or February.

The Education Council considered the draft on May 4 at the recommendation of the Provincial Education Plan Implementation Team and the next step is endorsement by boards of education and Minister of Education Dustin Duncan. The Prince Albert Catholic Division board of education endorsed a revised draft of the plan at their regular meeting in May.

“There was good stakeholder feedback achieved during the process, so the board felt confident to endorse the Provincial Education Plan,” Prince Albert Catholic director of education Lorel Trumier said.

Trumier said there is still a lot of work to do before the long-term plan gets completed. That was one of the reasons the board felt comfortable endorsing the Interim Plan for another year.

The Education Council endorsed the 2022-2023 Education Plan with minor wording changes after receiving feedback before it was passed on to the boards of education.

The Interim Provincial Plan was released in August, 2021. The interim plan will be in place until the 10-year plan is completed.

The provincial-level plan was originally expected to be released in June 2021.