This week, B.C.’s NDP government should be releasing its back-to-school plan to families across our province. With a little more than a month for parents to put the necessary plans in place for the upcoming school year, these next few weeks will be crucial to get a full understanding of what September will have in store for us — what parts of the plan work for families, and what parts don’t.
I'm pleased to hear that the government is working closely with our Provincial Health Authorities to co-ordinate the back-to-school plan, but parents can’t be left in the dark forever. Considering many other provinces announced back-to-school plans back in June, many parents and families are unable to make work and childcare arrangements and are growing increasingly anxious.
Premier John Horgan and the Ministry of Education are emphasizing a “strong” plan over a “speedy” plan but at some point, a plan that we can review and adjust is better than no plan at all.
Although the education minister has stated they intend to have as many students as possible back in classrooms come September, the Premier said last week in a press conference that parents need to have a “Plan B” in place in case things fall through.
So, is the Premier suggesting that government is only responsible for the “Plan A” and that it's the job of parents to come up with “Plan B” without any guidelines, suggestions, or reasonable alternatives?
The NDP has iterated that parents and workplaces need to be prepared to be flexible, but this is a source of some serious concern for working parents, especially working moms who — by this government’s own statistics — have been disproportionately removed from the workplace and are more negatively financially impacted by COVID-19. Back in June, when we tested our hybrid school model, there were no options for before or after school child care.
What if you’re a single parent without an option for a Plan B? Many parents have worked tirelessly to meet the impossible task of taking care of small children while being expected to simultaneously work a full-time job.
The NDP has already stripped away millions of dollars in online learning resources from thousands of students enrolled in Independent Distributed Learning (IDL) during the height of our pandemic. No chance for consultation with teachers or families, no fallback options, just “best of luck.”
In the coming weeks, I will be presenting a petition in the Legislature signed by more than 15,000 British Columbians asking this government to reinstate these resources and give parents the options they need to continue their children’s education without having to put their own lives and careers on hold.
I urge you all to add your voice to this petition at change.org/p/bc-education-ministers-restore-or-increase-funding-to-independant-distributed-learning-schools-in-bc.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.