“Crowded classes are a public health concern”: NDP says more teachers and EAs are crucial to reopening plan

The Saskatchewan NDP is calling on the province to introduce a plan for the safe reopening of schools this fall, including hiring additional teachers and EAs to ensure that no Saskatchewan family has to see their kids return to unsafe, overcrowded classrooms this fall.

“Crowded classes were a major issue before. As we prepare to reopen, that crowding is not just a challenge for ensuring quality education, but also a huge public health concern,” said NDP Education Critic Carla Beck. “We’ve got classrooms of 40 to 50 kids in some cases, and we don’t even know if gatherings of that size will even be allowed by September. 

“That’s why we’re calling on the government to introduce a plan for the safe reopening of Saskatchewan schools, and to commit to hiring more teachers and EAs to ensure our kids get the support they need as we work to limit the risk of a second wave of COVID-19.”

The Sask. Party used to monitor maximum class sizes, but is no longer keeping track. Saskatchewan does not publicly report how many kids are in Saskatchewan classrooms. If public health guidelines still limit the size of gatherings this fall, this will present a significant challenge for school divisions seeking to comply with those measures.

With a four-year contract with teachers now ratified, the NDP is also calling on the government to commit to fully fund the pay increase, and not leave divisions to pick up the tab. 

“This government has squeezed school divisions for years, trying to balance the budget on the backs of our kids,” said Beck. “As we move to safely reopen schools, we need to ensure every school has the resources needed to avoid costly and dangerous mistakes in this challenging time.”

Authorized by the chief official agent for the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party.