When classes resumed for students across Saskatchewan at the end of the Christmas break, Saskatchewan was the only province to see students back in the classroom without a delay in the start of classes, or a province-wide transition to remote learning.
Saskatchewan’s Minister of Education is Dustin Duncan. He explained that the decision to start classes on time came from the provincial government not feeling that it was necessary to delay the return.
“Dr. Shahab didn’t think that was necessary, and in fact, he’s been pretty vocal about, as we have been as a government, in that there are consequences to not re-opening schools; to not allowing kids to take part in as normal a life as possible,” Duncan said.
While the classes have resumed, it hasn’t been without a hiccup.
Throughout the province, there have been some disruptions. This includes some classes, and even schools, moving to remote learning due to cases of COVID-19. This was something that was expected with the start of school at the beginning of the month.
“We know that there will continue to be disruptions in individual schools and individual classrooms as well, as we make our way through this phase of the pandemic,” Duncan added. “But, we wanted to make every effort to have kids in school as much as possible.”
The decision had its share of detractors.
The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation and the provincial NDP called on the province to delay the start of classes after the Christmas break, calls that were rebuffed by the provincial government.
While the resumption of the class has had its challenges, the efforts of those who are in the classrooms and the schools haven’t been overlooked by Duncan.
“I just can’t thank enough, all of our education staff, and especially our teachers, who are really doing a great job of providing quality education at a time of disruption and uncertainty,” Duncan said.
The Minister of Education added the divisions themselves continue to follow the public health orders that have been put in place, and there has been no move to have those relaxed in any capacity. He noted the school divisions have done a good job of navigating COVID-19 and the different public health orders that have been implemented, trying to balance the education of students while also ensuring there is a safe learning environment for teachers, staff, and students.