Critics of Saskatchewan back-to-school plan fueled by criticism

Saskatchewan contract with UNIS raises opposition

Back-to-school plan criticized by opposition and unions in Saskatchewan (archive).

© Matt Howard/Radio-Canada
Back-to-school plan criticized by opposition and unions in Saskatchewan (archive).

Critics denouncing Education Minister Gordon Wyant’s back-to-school plan burst from all sides.

A few minutes after the end of the presentation of the back-to-school plan, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and its education critic, Carla Beck, lambasted the province’s plan.

Ms Beck called the plan “worst” in Canada. The New Democrats say this plan is only a draft. They explain that other provincial governments have prepared this type of document which served as a starting point for their planning several months ago.

The Saskatchewan NDP says it has spoken for months with health and education professionals. Carla Beck says there is “a huge gap between what they tell us to do and what we are seeing today from this Saskatchewan Party government».

Earlier last week, the opposition party in Saskatchewan unveiled its seven recommendations for a safe return to school. The NDP asked, among other things, to restrict the number of students in classes.

Selon Carla Beck, «before this pandemic, classrooms were already overcrowded and understaffed. These huge problems are still not resolved. It is inexcusable that the government […] made no effort to reduce the number of students per class or to take seriously the masks conversation happening across the country».

The STF pouted

The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) says “encouraged by the Ministry of Education considering masks in schools as an emergency plan [si les cas de COVID-19 se multiplient]». However, concerns persist within the ranks of the STF, according to its president, Patrick Maze.

On this question of masks, “teachers and parents wonder if this is enough and why there are inconsistencies between broader public health measures and what is planned in schools», Explains Patrick Maze.

The Ministry of Education presented four scenarios adapted to the evolution of the pandemic in Saskatchewan. Patrick Maze wonders what are the elements that could trigger the activation of other scenarios for this new school year.

The province is currently following Scenario 1. The second scenario involves the use of masks in Saskatchewan schools.

CUPE rejects plan

Finally, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Saskatchewan, which represents educational assistants, also pinned government decisions in a press release.

This plan “does not provide the conditions for a safe return to these far-from-normal times”Says CUPE.

«The hasty implementation [du plan] and the absence of key details leaves significant doubt as to the adequate protection of educational staff and studentsAccording to Judy Henley, CUPE Saskatchewan president.

The latter expressed his concerns in a letter sent to the Minister of Education before the presentation of the final plan to return to class.

CUPE Saskatchewan questioned the lack of time to prepare staff to put plans in place and the lack of adequate personal protective equipment for staff.


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