Statement from Karla Bernard, Official Opposition Critic for Education and Lifelong Learning, regarding Public Schools Branch Guidelines for Return to School September 2020
First, I want to thank Minister Trivers for producing this document. Despite the build up and anticipation created by government around this plan over the past number of weeks, the details provided are a significant let down.
For weeks I have highlighted the necessity for a mental health lens to be applied to any planning. I am not seeing evidence of this represented in the plan. During the pandemic, students with complex needs fell through the cracks. There is no acknowledgement or provision for these students going forward. This is a glaring oversight.
The plan also places a significant expectation on an already overburdened school system. How will administrators, teachers, bus drivers, EAs, and support staff meet the extra requirements being placed on them?
In fact, I presented a framework a number of weeks ago outlining questions to be considered in the development of a safe return to school plan. At that time, government members laughed at the framework and suggested these were questions they were already working through. The plan released today still does not address these questions I asked a month ago. The questions I asked were based on concerns I heard from parents, teachers, and principals. The plan presented is not much more than a regurgitation of CPHO guidelines.
This is absolutely disappointing and shows a shocking lack of leadership on this critically important issue.
We are just one month away from schools reopening. There are many, many questions that remain unanswered. This plan offers very little clarity and downloads responsibility from the Department to individual parents, caregivers, students, principals, teachers, and support staff. Islanders deserve better.
Karla Bernard, MLA
Charlottetown - Victoria Park
Official Opposition Critic for Education and Lifelong Learning