'We are scared for our kids': Concerns raised about Sask. return to school plan
REGINA -- Several groups around Saskatchewan are organizing protests demanding changes to the return to school plan.
The protests planned include an email blitz and a physical demonstration at MLA’s offices and schools, to show how much space is needed to socially distance an average class of 30 students.
The groups are calling on the government to apply a province-wide plan and not leave the details up to each individual school division.
They are also calling for mandatory mask use for school staff and older students, as well as lowering class sizes.
“We are scared for our kids, we are devastated for our kids, and we are angry that our government is playing Russian roulette with their lives,” said Elya Lam, a Saskatoon parent.
“We need to make sure that the government is really listening and understands that we are not okay with the plan as it stands and we will not go quietly into the night.”
Both the Regina Catholic and Regina Public Schools divisions have posted their plans online. The plans include removing certain toys that are hard to clean and making masks and other PPE items available for anyone who needs them.
Masks are not mandatory, but could be put to use in situations where physical distancing is challenging.
“It’s pandemic time and if we’re really, really close face to face there will be some situations where yes, staff will be wearing those masks,” Twylla West, a Regina Catholic School Division media coordinator, said.
Both divisions are also looking at assigned bus seating and cleaning protocols for buses and classrooms, along with making more efforts to recognize students and staff with mental health struggles.
The NDP says the province also needs to lay out a better plan for when it would move to a higher level of precautions
“What was missing in the government's plan that really is confusing is no thresholds whatsoever to say when we would go from one part of the plan, one phase of the plan, to the next,” NDP leader Ryan Meili said.
The provincial government says it will be releasing information to answer frequently asked questions for students, parents and school staff, over the next number of days. It added that the return to school plans are fluid and could be adjusted if there are changes with the pandemic.
The Regina Catholic School Division is working with a team of infectious disease specialists and is developing isolation rooms for anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms at school.
The plan is to have two spaces in each school used as isolation rooms. Hand sanitizer will be available in each room.
Students in the rooms will be monitored by a staff member, who will also be wearing a mask, face shield and gloves when accompanying the child in the isolation room.
“It certainly makes sense that if somebody becomes ill while they’re at work, that we have a safe place for them to be that can keep everybody else safe as well,” West said.
West says the division will likely need to hire more staff to fulfill all the new requirements