Posted on Jul 21, 2020
JASON KENNEY ROLLS THE DICE ON STUDENT SAFETY, PROVIDES NO CRUCIAL COVID-19 SUPPORTS
EDMONTON -- Premier Jason Kenney’s plan for the reopening of Alberta schools during the COVID-19 pandemic puts students, staff and families at risk by failing to cap class sizes or provide schools with sufficient resources to meet safety standards.
“It’s not about stay open versus stay closed, it’s about open versus open safely,” said Rachel Notley, Leader of the NDP Official Opposition. “Jason Kenney has chosen just ‘open’.”
“I was disappointed to see a disingenuous presentation from the Premier and the Minister Adriana LaGrange that held up the success of other jurisdictions and some Alberta district’s summer schools and then failed to act on key aspects of that success,” Notley added.
“Calgary Catholic capped their summer school classes at 14 students. Denmark capped theirs at 12, and the Netherlands installed plexiglass around students’ desks. Kenney and LaGrange have not capped class sizes or provided new resources for additional staffing or physical separation.”
The Opposition supports the specific safety measures recommended by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, such as proper cleaning, frequent handwashing, daily screening and physical distancing. But Kenney and LaGrange have not provided school districts with the resources to act on these measures.
“There is no increase in per-capita student funding,” Notley said. “After a series of deep cuts to the education budget, the UCP is now asking schools to do the impossible. They are asking them to impose a set of safety obligations onto a school system that is stressed already, that has fewer resources to accomplish this task. There is a complete failure here to acknowledge that these things come at an additional cost and it's the government's role to guarantee school can meet the standard.”
NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman noted reserve funding is one-time only and many boards have already tapped into those funds heavily since the UCP’s election.
“The UCP says reserves are ‘rainy day money’, but the UCP has been raining on Alberta schools for a year and a half,” Hoffman said.
Later this week, the Official Opposition will present a detailed proposal for a safe re-opening of Alberta schools.