July 23rd, 2020

NDP MPPs: Parents need a plan for the safe return of schools with emergency funding for COVID-19 measures

KITCHENER-WATERLOO – NDP MPPs Catherine Fife (Waterloo) and Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) issued the following statement after the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) chair wrote to Doug Ford requesting help for the upcoming school year due to the lack of extra resources coming from the provincial government. The WRDSB estimates it will face $7.9 million in unbudgeted COVID-19 costs, and without support will have to cut budgets for schools across the Region.

“Parents in Waterloo Region need clarity about the next school year. They’ve had their hands full during the pandemic juggling parenting and making sure school-age kids keep up with remote learning, all while managing their own workloads. They deserve a provincial government that will step up with a plan for September and the funding schools need to protect children and their teachers from COVID-19.

Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce have failed to provide a plan or funding that are needed to ensure kids can return to schools and child care centres in a safe and supportive way. It’s simply not good enough to leave this to school boards, including here in Waterloo Region, without any additional resources or funding from the province. We’ve heard a lot of talk from the Ford government about re-opening schools, but what parents need is real action and proper funding to make that possible.

The Official Opposition NDP put forward an emergency action plan to help get kids safely back to class five days a week in the fall, including:

  • Putting enough teachers, education workers and alternative classrooms in place for all students to return to school five days a week, in small, safe classrooms;
  • Paid sick leave and parental leave in any modified return;
  • Immediate funding to stabilize the child care sector to prevent fee increases and layoffs;
  • Increased funding for teacher hiring, bussing, school repairs and cleaning;
  • Real collaboration with frontline education workers, students, parents and school boards through a COVID-19 recovery school advisory group.

Parents, students, and educators deserve to know if the province will provide emergency funding right now to school boards to put that in place so they can be ready for September."