P.E.I. back-to-school plan lacked consultation, says opposition

·2 min read
West Royalty Elementary was the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak just days into the school year. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
West Royalty Elementary was the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak just days into the school year. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

There was a failure to properly consult with key groups on P.E.I. government's back-to-school plan, such as the teachers' union and the child and youth advocate, the Green Party charges.

The province unveiled its back-to-school pandemic plan two weeks before classes resumed, with provisions for near normal conditions in classrooms. But it had to backtrack, closing some schools for a time and reintroducing some restrictions across the province following a COVID-19 outbreak just a few days into the school year.

On Tuesday a legislative standing committee heard while groups the province said it consulted — including the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation and the P.E.I. Home and School Federation — received copies of the plan days in advance, they didn't have an opportunity to provide feedback until after the plan was released.

The child and youth advocate, meanwhile, received a copy of the plan roughly an hour before it was released.

Green Party Education critic Steve Howard called that more of a heads up than consultation.

Jane Robertson/CBC
Jane Robertson/CBC

"There's an entire cohort of unvaccinated children who don't really have any representation within government themselves. They have no body that represents them," said Howard.

"That's why we have a child and youth advocate, and it really surprises me that with so many children in play here in school, that the child and youth advocate was not consulted ahead of time to get their take on the rights of children."

The province is implementing a vaccinate-or-test policy in Island schools for teachers and staff starting Friday. It is also considering whether classrooms without mechanical ventilation should be equipped with portable units to clean the air.

Opposition parties say these are issues should have been sorted out before students returned to class.

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