The BC Liberals feel trying to get information out of B.C.’s education minister on the plan for reopening schools in September has been an unnecessary frustration.
The Liberals point to back-to-school plans already unveiled for Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan while B.C.’s provincial government has remained silent.
But this week in Question Period, Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick says the Liberals manage to budge the NDP cone of silence on what parents, students and teachers can expect to see when classes resume in September.
Letnick says there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiousness among parents trying to figure out if their children will be back in class, and if not what will distant learning look like.
“We pushed the education minister in Question Period to tell us why a plan isn’t in place for B.C. like for other provinces, and will it be done far enough ahead of the start of the new school year so parents can make decisions,” Letnick said.
“We had sent the education minister a letter on June 6 asking he deliver an education plan no later than Aug. 4, and he basically shrugged it off.
“This minister has a habit of doing that. Other education ministers in the past tended to be more collaborative, but this particular minister tends to be quite partisan.”
Coming out of Question Period, Education Minister Rob Fleming committed to having an education plan released to the public within the next three weeks.
Letnick acknowledged that Fleming has stated a commitment limited to K-7 classes to resume in September.
“I certainly hear about this issue within my social circle, but at this point, we are not getting a lot of calls from parents at my constituency office as of yet. But it’s definitely a top-of-mind issue for parents, grandparents and certainly teachers as well.”
Letnick said bringing some students back to class on a limited basis last month was a useful step, offering some insight to teachers and school administrators what worked and didn’t work under the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
“I think it reinforced the different ways students learn. Some do well in the classroom, some learn better from home, so we have to remain flexible so all our kids can learn in a safe environment,” he said.
“That’s why distance learning programs remain important, especially for those kids who are immunity compromised. So let’s get the plan out there so parents can make some important decisions.”