July 22nd, 2020

Schools reopening plan leaves many questions, lacks clarity on supports for parents

HALIFAX -- The Liberal government’s plans for reopening schools in September lacks clarity, especially for working parents if schools have to revert to a blended or at-home model. Throughout the pandemic, the McNeil government has ignored the impact of school closures on parents with school-aged children.

“During the first wave of COVID-19, thousands of parents struggled to manage working and supporting their children’s at-home learning. While many people were working from home, thousands of people were either laid off or had their hours cut, adding financial burden on top of the struggles of full-time at-home learning,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “We know COVID-19 requires us to be flexible, but the government must also be thoughtful and ensure that plans consider all aspects. Today’s plan does not address what supports will be available for working parents to manage another full-time at-home learning period successfully.”

Schools initially closed on March 16 and at-home learning concluded on June 5. Parents, teachers, early childhood educators, community groups, and other stakeholders have raised concerns about the impact of at-home learning on learning outcomes, students with special needs, mental health, and increasing inequities between students.

“Parents want to be able to send their children back to school safely. Today’s announcement, while late, is welcome. I’m glad that our recommendations around prioritizing students with diverse abilities and the need for technology were adopted. But parents are also worried about what will happen if we move to a blended or at-home model, what before- and after-school care will look like, and what additional staff and resources will be in place to ensure the plan can be a success,” said NDP Education spokesperson Claudia Chender.

The NDP has called for the creation of an economic recovery task force to plan all aspects of the next phase of response to COVID-19. This would mean reopening plans would be complementary and consider all aspects of what returning to work and school means for the people of Nova Scotia.