NDP plan for school reopening gets failing grade: B.C. Liberals

THE BC Liberals are calling out Premier John Horgan and the NDP for failing to provide leadership and certainty for parents and teachers following the reveal of Wednesday’s outline of a plan for a return to schools in the fall.

“[Provincial Health Officer] Dr. Bonnie Henry and health officials are doing excellent work to ensure students and staff are safe, but NDP Education Minister Rob Fleming’s decision to download responsibility onto school districts is just creating more uncertainty for parents, students, and teachers,” said Dan Davies, BC Liberal Education Critic, on Wednesday. “We found out a few details today but school districts won’t be able to finalize actual plans until August 26 — that’s still only a week before classes are supposed to return. Normally we would agree with the Minister’s suggestion to ‘rely on our distance learning resources,’ except he slashed $12 million from Independent Distributed Learning school budgets earlier this year so I’m not sure what resources the Minister is referring to.”

The NDP guidelines will expand permissible “bubbles” to school cohorts of 60 for elementary schools and 120 people for high schools but with no guides to school districts on how to structure this. The BC Liberals said they are joining parents as well as the BC Teachers Federation who are saying the NDP’s plan needs more work.

“Parents won’t find out until a week before classes start what school will look like in their districts and that simply isn’t good enough. They expected clarity today and instead are left with more questions than answers,” added Davies. “Parents are already feeling incredible stress as they look to the fall and they’ll now spend August worrying about what kind of after-school care and child care they will need and whether they may have to stay home with their children.”

With many B.C. parents and teachers now worried about the safety and expectations of the upcoming school year, the NDP’s decision to slash funding for Independence Distance Learning in the middle of a pandemic proves further frustrating for many British Columbians, said the B.C. Liberals.