Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says the province’s return to school plan does not provide enough clarity. (Tribune file photo)

COLUMNS: School reopening plan receives a failing grade

MLA Donna Barnett said the official opposition is demanding clarity

Last week the NDP unveiled a plan for the return to school in the fall for B.C. students.

Although parents are grateful for the work by Dr. Bonnie Henry and health officials to ensure students and staff are safe, the NDP is facing widespread criticism for failing to provide leadership and certainty for parents and teachers.

At the heart of their concerns, is the uncertainty created by NDP Education Minister Rob Fleming’s decision to download responsibility for fall plans onto school districts.

School districts won’t be able to finalize action plans until August 26, which leaves parents, teachers and students with barely a week before classes start to prepare.

Even the BC Teachers Federation is objecting to the short notice.

Secondly, many school boards will want to implement a combination of in-class instruction with remote learning from home.

Fleming even pointed out that we have to rely on our “distance learning resources,” yet it was the NDP minister of education who only months ago slashed $12 million from Independent Distributed Learning school budgets.

Even more unclear are the “bubbles” or “learning groups” consisting of 60 or 120 staff and students (depending on the grade) who will stick together during the year for everything from classes, recess, gym and even lunch breaks.

As the Official Opposition, we are joining teachers and parent groups and demanding greater clarity from an education minister who seems to have skipped class.

Well, I am very sorry Minister Fleming, but this is not the proper way to protect students, staff and their families from the threat of a second wave of the pandemic.

Parents expected more clarity this week and instead are left with many questions that won’t be answered for weeks.

They deserve a whole lot better.

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

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