More clarity and action needed in NDP’s delayed back-to-school plan: BC Liberals

AS B.C.’s students and educators return to classrooms amidst the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant, the ​Official Opposition on Thursday called on Premier John Horgan and the NDP government to announce what concrete steps it is taking to support B.C. schools in this latest wave of the pandemic.

“It is not enough to simply delay the reopening of our classrooms for ​some ​students and hope for the best,” said Opposition Education Critic Jackie Tegart. “Classrooms are slated to ​fully open next Monday and staff, students, and parents want a clear, district-by-district back-to-school plan from this government, including details on what supports they will ​be providing to our schools to ensure they have the enhanced safety measures to keep ​everyone safe.”

The BC Liberals said they are renewing their calls for the NDP government to commit to additional actions and protections to support students and staff​, including an update on the promised ventilation upgrades in classrooms, further details on the exposure notification system for schools,​ and specific plans for distance and remote learning options should there be staff shortages. They said they are also joining the calls for enhanced safety equipment and PPE for teachers and staff ​including access to N95 masks, as well as the more widespread use of rapid tests and specific plans on how they will be distributed and administered.

“Throughout each wave of the pandemic, we have seen this government provide vague and convoluted guidelines for school districts and place the onus on staff to keep themselves and hundreds of thousands of students safe,” added Tegart. “We’ve seen specific rapid testing plans for schools rolled out in other jurisdictions across the country and it’s time the Education Minister provides the same here in British Columbia. If there was ever a time for the NDP government to ​reassure our school communities and provide ​them with the direction and support they are looking for, that time is now — parents, students and educators need assurances today.”