Province’s return to school plan falls short: Dinn


For immediate release

July 6, 2020

Province’s return to school plan falls short: Dinn

The NDP Caucus is not impressed by government’s school plan for the fall. “Despite having four months to plan, the province’s proposal for the new school year fails to address the concerns we have heard from parents and teachers alike,” said Jim Dinn, NDP Education Critic.

“This so-called plan downloads significant responsibility on the school districts.”

Government outlines three scenarios for the coming school year: full resumption of in-class instruction, a partial resumption, and a continuation of at-home, online instruction. Dinn calls them “lacking in detail.”

“From the beginning, I’ve called for the release of a detailed implementation plan early enough so that we can analyze it with time to make improvements so that it can work for students, parents, and teachers alike,” said Dinn. “I’m disappointed that government has only provided a general framework with no consultation with its partners.”

“COVID-19 disrupted the school year in untold ways and has created confusion and uncertainty for educators and families. For the past four months teachers, students, and parents have done their best to make online learning work. They were counting on a plan to provide clear direction for the next school year,” Dinn said.

Government says the school districts will develop procedures and protocols for facility cleaning, classroom instruction, and self-screening for COVID-19, however, a number of these issues were problematic before the pandemic.

“Insufficient cleaning staff and the practice of not replacing cleaning staff when they are absent due to illness was already a challenge prior to COVID-19. Now the Department of Education is asking teachers, parents, and students to trust that schools will be properly sanitized to prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” said Dinn.

“This will ultimately come down to a question of adequate resources,” said Dinn. “I’m not convinced schools will have them. My greatest fear is that teachers and parents will once again have to do their best to make an under-resourced system function properly and safely.”

The NDP Caucus is calling on the Department of Education and school districts to work with their partners, the NL Teachers’ Association and the NL Federation of School Councils, to advance this plan early enough to meet the needs of teachers, parents, and students.

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For further information, contact Zaren Healey White, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), 693-9172 (c), or zarenhealeywhite@gov.nl.ca.

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