NDP Education critic Marit Stiles and NDP Child Care critic Doly Begum say the Ford government’s vague instructions for school re-opening is leaving parents and educators with no certainty they’ll have support to make it work. They’re calling for a number of specific commitments from Ford, including everything from more teachers and school busses to ensure physical distancing, to paid leave for parents who have kids learning from home.
“Working parents are anxious about how to manage when work resumes but full-time school doesn’t,” said Stiles. “If kids can’t get back to school, working parents can’t get back to work. It’s that simple.”
“Child care is critical to reopening the economy and ensuring that parents, especially women, can re-enter the workforce,” Begum said. “The government has been treating this as an afterthought when it should be a top priority.”
New Democrats called on the government to implement an immediate action plan including:
- Guarantee that parents will be able to access paid, job-protected leave until school and child care fully resumes.
- Immediate funding to stabilize the child care sector to prevent fee increases and layoffs.
- Hire more teachers and other education workers to allow for more, smaller classes.
- Immediate funding for urgent school repairs and upgrades, including infection control (eg: touch-free sinks and soap dispensers).
- Funding for more school busses to allow for physical distancing.
- Additional support for students with special needs or who are struggling online.
- Strike a COVID-19 recovery school advisory group that includes frontline education workers, parents and students, school boards and parents.
- Consult with municipalities to find ways to use available public infrastructure so that school and child care centres can resume in-person for as many children as possible in a safe and healthy way.
- Guarantee that no essential workers currently receiving emergency child care will lose child care provision when the emergency child care program ends
School boards across the province are in the process of developing plans for September based on general, vague instructions the government issued on June 19. They mandate starting with a hybrid model that would keep kids learning at home at least half the time.
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