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Back to School Plan Needed

For weeks, parents and students have been feeling anxious and unsure about what the upcoming school year is going to look like in the fall. This week? Not much has changed I’m afraid, but the good news is that we finally have some promises that a plan is on the way and that parents can expect to learn what the new school year will look like for our kids by July 29. I would hardly call it a cause for celebration, considering that many other provinces have had back-to-school plans— complete with contingency plans — in place since June but at least parents can rest a little easier knowing that something is in the works.

That being said, I don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch. The original plan from Education Minister Rob Fleming and the NDP was to keep parents guessing all the way until August 20, one week before classes are scheduled to resume. Making back-to-school arrangements was a challenge for parents before there was a global pandemic. Being forced to make plans to return to work, book child cares and generally organize for school under COVID-19 conditions and on such short notice, was beyond unreasonable.

We have been hearing these concerns from families and teachers across B.C. and, being a former teacher and dad myself, I absolutely agree. Both Ontario and Alberta have announced they will have reopening plans for their schools in place by August 4. Although British Columbians would have loved to see a plan back in June, at least this would be a far more suitable timeframe.

So with no plan in place, we wrote to the Education Minister asking for just that: a plan in place no later than B.C. Day so parents could start making arrangements. When the Minister continued to refuse to commit on a specific timeframe, I and my colleagues decided to press the issue during Question Period. Eventually, the Minister relented and committed to releasing a plan to families “in three weeks.”

Good news indeed, so long as the Minister is good on his word. B.C. parents — myself included — are very much looking forward to seeing what this plan will look like, hoping that it will offer the flexibility and guidelines that teachers will need to prepare learning plans and for families to safely send their kids back to school. So I have marked the day on my calendar (July 29th to be exact) and will be sure to send the Minister the occasional reminder in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully, by this time three weeks from now, we will at least have a better understanding of what September has in store for us – because families deserve to know.

By Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River North

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