Parents urge P.E.I. government to release more details on back-to-school plan soon
Operational plans are still in development
Island parents are raising concerns about missing details in the provincial school plans for September.
Education and Lifelong Learning Minister Brad Trivers released the plan in the legislature on Thursday afternoon titled Welcome Back to School Plan, which has some information on what school will look like this fall.
Jody Gibbenhuck is a parent who's been working from home as an essential worker throughout the pandemic and has found the circumstances of balancing work and being a stay-at-home mom to be very challenging.
She said she is glad the educational department released a plan, but added that there is a lack of details in the document — particularly around bussing and timing of his classes.
As a working parent, she will also have to organize child care and transportation to and from school.
"I would like them to give us a timeline, I would like them to give us information about when more information will be out," Gibbenhuck said.
The earlier the better, she added, saying that she'd like to know in the next three to four weeks, otherwise "after that is too late for a lot of information because we have plans we need to make as parents."
'We can't leave it until September'
She wants to see health and safety checks of students at school and said she is not satisfied with the Welcome Back to School Plan saying self-diagnosis will happen at home.
"There's not going to be any temperature checks, there's not going to be any questionnaires when you go into school," Gibbenhuck said. "I want to make sure it is going to be the safest environment for my child to be put in."
John McIntyre is a parent of three and two of his children are in school.
His concerns revolve around the academic support systems that are to be put in place.
"I would like to see more thought given to support students, different kinds of learners — kids who are maybe further ahead, kids that need support catching up," he said.
"There are all kinds of best practices, developed elsewhere, we don't need to reinvent the wheel. We can't leave it until September when school is back."
Operational plans in development
While the document does say students with educational needs "are considered in this plan," it does not provide details on what types of support will be organized.
Cory Thomas, the president of P.E.I. Homes and School Federation, said he is pleased with the release of the plan but said operational plans are still being developed for each school.
His biggest priority is the safety of children.
The plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Public Health Office and the document states there will be "enhanced cleaning practices" at schools as well as frequent hand washing protocols, signage, limited visitors and more.
"What I also like is they will have students in little cohorts, staggered lunches, recess, they'll be with that group a lot," said Thomas.
"I do feel though that once those operational plans are developed, parents need to know what they are. And the more communication to parents, the better."
Staff are expected to return on September 1 and students will return on September 8.
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With files by Jessica Doria Brown