NDP call on UCP to rehire school staff and help fund at-home learning

by Morinville News Staff

The NDP opposition wants the Government of Alberta to rehire more than 20,000 laid-off educational staff and provide financial support to parents for at-home learning supplies.

“We should have never cut the budget for education in this very difficult time — in fact, we need to invest more to ensure our students can still learn at home,” said Sarah Hoffman, NDP Education Critic, in a media release Tuesday afternoon. “Parents are finding the shift to at-home learning very challenging, and many don’t have the extra cash to buy the things they need to help their kids succeed.”

The NDP call is for a pandemic grant program that would provide a one-time payment of $250 for each child enrolled in preschool and K-12 education, and $300 for each child with special needs.

Monies would be used for supplies, and other resources the NDP say would help students learn at home, including tablets, laptops, web-cameras, books, art supplies, science materials, and sporting equipment.

One of the parents the NDP surveyed is Erin Schaeferm who has two children coded as having special needs. One requires speech therapy and physiotherapy, the other needs to be taught above standard grade level.

“I would like this government to acknowledge that the issues facing families during the pandemic are as unique as the individuals in the families, we are all doing our best to support our children, and that now comes with an additional cost,” Schaefer said. “Receiving a grant of $250 would allow us to support our children not only where they are, but where they have the ability to go.”

The NDP estimate that with approximately 750,000 K-12 students learning at home, their program would cost about $190 million.

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