B.C. Liberals attack NDP on back-to-school plan, cut to Independent Distance Learning school budgets

THE BC Liberals on Wednesday called for leadership and certainty for parents, teachers, and students for the upcoming school year after Education Minister Rob Fleming shifted nearly all responsibility for school reopening plans on to individual school districts.

“Rob Fleming’s decision to download the majority of responsibility onto school districts to safely reopen isn’t helping parents, students, and teachers,” said Dan Davies, BC Liberal Education Critic. “Principals are now being directed by the minister to contact all parents as enhanced enrolment. By placing the onus on school districts to arrange learning plans, as well as health and safety measures, the NDP has abandoned parents while creating massive disparities between school districts in terms of capacity and funding, which will severely harm the learning outcomes of countless students.”

The B.C. Liberals pointed out that in recent weeks, the NDP’s plan has faced criticism from parents, educators, and the BC Teachers’ Federation. Wednesday’s announcement confirmed that decisions are all being left up to school districts with varying levels of capacity and resources throughout the province. The NDP government has sent mixed signals, suggesting that immune-compromised children and families explore homeschooling and distributed learning resources, while cutting $12 million in funding to Independent Distance Learning (IDL) school budgets in the middle of the pandemic.

“The NDP government’s current plan fails families and teachers by forcing students back into classrooms without appropriate hybrid and distance learning resources options being made available. Parents expected clarity today and instead are now left frustrated, anxious, and with more questions than answers,” added Davies. “What was missing from today’s announcement, aside from any leadership from the NDP, is what British Columbians have been asking for all along — a plan that offers them the resources and flexibility to meet the needs of their own families. With the first day back-to-school just around the corner, it’s clear the NDP government’s K-12 return-to-school plan is a failure that’s not working for anyone.”

Last week, the BC Liberals sent a letter to Minister Fleming calling for immediate action on creating a viable province-wide framework for distance learning options, ensuring that the plan respects children with immune-compromised students and those diverse learning needs, and ensuring that every child who requires an electronic device for learning can be provided with access to one.