Posted on Jul 23, 2020
NDP RELEASES AN ALTERNATIVE RELAUNCH PLAN FOR ALBERTA SCHOOLS
EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP Caucus released a report Thursday detailing an alternative school relaunch plan. The report, Safe Schools, Successful Students: An Alternative Relaunch Plan for Alberta Schools, includes 15 recommendations focused on student and staff safety, funding for teachers and personal protective equipment, and safe transportation measures for Alberta students.
“September is approaching fast and we have heard from thousands of Albertans that they are worried about how they will be able to return to school safely. COVID-19 is going to be a persistent threat to our education system throughout the year, so we need to ensure that our schools will be funded sufficiently and prepared to deal with the risks,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.
The NDP estimates the cost of the recommendations, if fully implemented, to be $1 billion. A full list of recommendations and costing can be found in the report.
Alberta’s NDP Caucus believes the $1 billion investment is necessary to keep 740,000 students and tens of thousands of staff safe from the deadly COVID-19 virus. It also pales in comparison to spending by Premier Kenney, who gambled $7.5 billion on a single pipeline earlier this summer and accelerated his failed, $4.7-billion corporate handout, which has yet to create a single job.
“Governing is about choices and priorities. Albertans have repeatedly told us that childrens’ safety must be a top priority. While these recommendations come with a cost, the consequences of pretending things can operate normally without consequence will be far more costly,” said Sarah Hoffman, NDP Education Critic.
Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition gathered feedback from Albertans using an online survey that ran over a three-week period from June 15 to July 3. Multiple conversations were also conducted using digital platforms.
Almost 14,000 Albertans took part in these conversations and many shared their experiences, concerns and perspectives on reopening. More than half of those consulted, identified as parents, 40 percent identified as teachers and about 10 percent identified as other school staff or interested Albertans.
The school re-entry plan presented by UCP Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and Premier Jason Kenney comes after successive budgets cut funding to school boards, support for students with learning disabilities, student transportation grants and a host of other reductions.
“A safe return to school means a properly funded, and meticulously planned return to school,” said Hoffman.
Alberta’s NDP Caucus will be submitting their recommendations to Premier Jason Kenney in the hopes they are given serious consideration.