NDP school safety announcement leaves parents and teachers needing more

ASHCROFT (February 4, 2021) – Despite today’s announcement being a step in the right direction, parents and teachers have been left needing more and are still demanding improvements following the NDP government’s changes to school health and safety policies and funding.

“Although it’s great to see the government finally listening to the concerns expressed by the education system with a stricter mask policy, parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators are still asking the province to take more steps to increase safety and improve transparency,” said Jackie Tegart, BC United Education Critic. “As the Official Opposition, we hope that this second installment of federal funding will provide parents and school staff with greater clarity and include many of the promised safety measures that were missing from the first installment back in September.”

Today’s announcement revised mask policy in middle and high schools as well as rolling out the second installment of a $242.4 million federal grant to expand health and safety measures in K-12 schools. However, since the original installment of that federal funding last September, John Horgan’s government has faced strong criticism for a lack of transparency in their COVID data reporting and the allocation of federal grant funding, including promised upgrades to ventilation in B.C. schools. MLA Tegart, alongside colleagues in the BC United Caucus, helped amplify concerns from school staff and families in a series of letters written to the NDP calling for increased public reporting of COVID-19 data, including a detailed daily case breakdown for schools, but have yet to receive a response.

“We now have a better understanding of how the virus is spread and the importance of ventilation in our classrooms, but there’s little transparency or reporting of how this federal funding will be spent to actually improve these conditions and increase school cleanliness and safety,” added Tegart. “We will continue to press the NDP to ensure that government will address school safety plans with greater clarity and openness with teachers, staff, students, and parents moving forward.”