B.C. Liberal Critic for Education Dan Davies was joined on Tuesday by nearly 200 participants from across British Columbia for a virtual town hall where parents, teachers, staff, and students shared their concerns about the NDP’s current back-to-school plan, which has created widespread uncertainty and confusion as families look ahead to the coming school year.
“The NDP government has released a half-baked back-to-school plan that has inspired little confidence for teachers, staff and families,” said Davies. “With just weeks to go until school is supposed to resume, there is a growing chorus of concern and anxiety coming from teachers, staff, and families across B.C. that this government still refuses to address or even recognize. This town hall was our way of providing these British Columbians with a forum to share their concerns and discuss solutions.”
Throughout the town hall, dozens of teachers and parents outlined the challenges and fears they are facing, including a lack of guidelines for their immune-compromised children or family members. Teachers described how they fear the long-term impacts on their own health should they contract COVID-19 from asymptomatic students. Parents also expressed concern that the government is not offering appropriate distance-learning supports and resources for at-risk children, which is more pressing given the NDP slashed funding to Independent Distributed Learning programs by $12 million this July.
“What we heard today was that parents are feeling overwhelmed by conflicting information and the lack of guidelines coming from government. They are still uncertain about what September has in store and are scared for the wellbeing of their children and families,” added Davies. “What is missing in the NDP’s proposal 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. I am hoping that the Minister will listen to some of the concerns that we heard today, offer more opportunities for consultation, and make the necessary changes that will protect our children’s health and education and instill greater confidence in parents and teachers.”