For months, parents across Nova Scotia have waited to hear any details about schools this fall. With an announcement finally expected later this week, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston says that the Liberals have left very little room for error by delaying this long.
“This government has asked Nova Scotians to stay home to help us pull through COVID-19, and assured us that they would do the rest.” says Houston. “In Education, when other provinces were procuring supplies and additional buses in April, our province had yet to do anything. They have refused to give parents confidence or the necessary information to show they are ready.”
Every province has presented an education plan in some form or another, with the exception of Nova Scotia.
On June 24, Houston and Education Critic Tim Halman announced Ready for What’s Next in Education, which included over 30 recommendations on how the province can responsibly and safely send children back to school in September. Those recommendations included everything from operational suggestions like providing professional development for teachers and other educational professionals and ordering the appropriate technology in the event homeschooling is required. It also put a focus on best practices for safety on bussing and in classrooms, while procuring protective equipment and appropriate mental health supports.
“We are the last province to make any kind of announcement,” said Halman. “Other provinces were planning for September back in March. I have received calls from teachers and parents all summer wondering why Nova Scotia is leaving it so late.”
The NSPC plan represents ideas and information from Nova Scotians across the education system. Though Houston says he hopes the government has now done the same even though they were late starting.
“It is troubling to me that parents - along with our Caucus - had to drag the government kicking and screaming towards putting together a plan,” said Houston. “I’d expect they have now done the appropriate consultation, but then again this Premier is not known for respecting the perspectives and opinions of others.”
Ready for What’s Next in Education also calls for continuing consultation with stakeholders. The PC Caucus says that all parents and educational professionals are worried, but specifically those who are immunocompromised or have diverse needs. One of the PC recommendations calls on the government to hold conversations so proper preparations can take place.
“COVID-19 has presented us with many unknowns,” said Halman. “It’s impossible to address those unknowns if you haven’t listened to Nova Scotians,” said Halman. “Sadly, planning was left late and when planning is left late, the government cuts corners. Anything less than a full plan won’t work.”