July 28th, 2020

Liberals vote down public engagement on school reopening

HALIFAX -- At this morning’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, the NDP caucus put forward a motion calling for the committee to hold a forum on our province’s school reopening plan. The forum would allow stakeholders, including the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union and school advisory committees, to have input and make suggestions to the Minister.

Last Wednesday the Liberals announced a plan that says it prioritizes safety but offers few details on how COVID-19 transmission will be prevented.

“Our caucus, along with teachers, staff and families, has many concerns and unanswered questions about what this plan will look like in reality,” said NDP Education spokesperson Claudia Chender. “We want September to be successful, but the plan as it stands does not inspire confidence.”

The Minister of Education has yet to indicate whether the necessary investments will be made in cleaning, PPE, space and staffing concerns. Questions remain about the reliance on classroom cohorting, given that children will be in mixed groups on the bus and during extra-curricular activities and families still haven’t seen any guidelines for before- and after-school care.

“The Liberals have consistently shut down public accountability measures such as committees during the pandemic,” said Chender. “When it comes to the health and safety of our children, we believe everything must be done to ensure that parents, teachers, staff, and the public have confidence in the plan. A forum would give us a chance to hear from the public, similar to the opportunity offered by the Law Amendments committee during a legislative sitting.”

Standing committees of the Legislature have the ability to hold forums and did so on a number of topics between 2004 and 2008.

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