Cariboo Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett. Submitted photo

COLUMNS: Return to school in jeopardy

Students and teachers are still facing a great deal of uncertainty

We are just a week away from the official opening of the new school year and yet parents, students and teachers are still facing a great deal of uncertainty.

It is not the fault of local school boards that are trying to cope under difficult and unprecedented circumstances. The fault lies directly with the provincial government and NDP Education Minister Rob Fleming.

We all want a safe return to in-class instruction but right now Fleming is battling with the BC Teachers’ Federation over the use of masks to protect the safety of K-12 students.

It’s been nearly six months since the outbreak of the pandemic in our province, and yet we still don’t have a solid plan for re-opening.

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.

READ MORE: Barnett salutes small business

As the Official Opposition, we are calling on Fleming and the provincial government to 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.

No one wants their child to attend classes under questionable circumstances.

That’s why we are calling on the government to implement measures that will promote greater distance learning programs and options for children in multi-generational and immune-compromised households, this includes restoring the $12 million in funding removed from Independent Distributed Learning (IDL) programs.

By placing the onus on school districts to arrange learning plans, as well as health and safety measures, it reveals the provincial government lacks an overall framework to help keep our children safe.

Parents deserve choice, stability, and safety for their children’s education.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.

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