THE BC Liberals on Tuesday called on Premier John Horgan and the NDP to provide greater choice and more certainty for parents, teachers and students for the upcoming school year after the government’s current plan has been met with hostility from families and educators throughout British Columbia.
“As it stands, it’s clear that the NDP government’s K-12 return-to-school in September plan is a failure and does not work for families or teachers,” said Andrew Wilkinson, BC Liberal Leader. “While we must strive for a safe return to in-class instruction, the conflicting information, lack of flexibility, and overall poor administration of the government’s plan is creating unnecessary anxiety for families throughout B.C who have faced unprecedented challenges to preserve and continue the education of our children in the face of this global pandemic.”
Earlier, Wilkinson and MLA Dan Davies, BC Liberal Education Critic, sent a letter to NDP Education Minister Rob Fleming calling for immediate action in four key areas:
- Establish a viable province-wide framework that will ensure school districts can safely implement both in-class and distance learning options, and offer the same level of learning standards and opportunity for students and teachers no matter where they live, ensuring reasonable choices for parents during the pandemic.
- Implement measures that will promote greater distance learning programs and options for children in multi-generational and immune-compromised households, including restoring the $12 million in funding removed from Independent Distributed Learning (IDL) programs.
- Ensure that every child who requires an electronic device for learning can be provided with access to a laptop, tablet, or electronic device.
- Ensure that the government’s plan does not fail children with diverse learning needs by creating a greater disparity between the quality and availability of learning delivery models and resources.
“Whether it’s parents experiencing backlogs and waitlists to get kids into public distributed learning schools, immune-compromised families worried about the absence of universal hybrid learning models, or teachers concerned about access to PPE in the classroom, people throughout B.C. are frustrated,” said Davies. “By placing the onus on school districts to arrange learning plans, as well as health and safety measures, John Horgan and the NDP are creating massive disparities between school districts in terms of capacity and funding, which will harm the learning outcomes of students.”
The NDP government has sent mixed signals, suggesting that immune-compromised children and families explore homeschooling and distributed learning resources while simultaneously cutting $12 million in funding to 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. A viable education plan is paramount to ensure our children and families are prepared to face the challenges of COVID-19,” said Wilkinson. “We hope the NDP will finally show some leadership and implement these important changes before school starts in September. Parents deserve choice, stability, and safety for their children’s education.”