Returning to schools after the Christmas break and one week of at-home learning, the UCP government has put parents and teachers in an impossible position. Before I go any further, let me say I can only speak to my experience and I know it may be different from other parents. Through this pandemic, my wife and I have been incredibly fortunate to remain employed with flexible work arrangements. Last week’s at-home learning showed me that, if both our kids (5 and 7) needed to continue online schooling, we’d have to start making decisions about stepping back from the workforce (in our case, I would likely move to part time). Again, I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to work remotely and have the flexibility that would allow for such a decision.
What becomes clear is the devastating impact this will have on kids, families, educators, and the economy if more people have to stop working to provide care and education to their children – and the unfortunate reality is women will bear most of this burden. Without the investment called for in the Fall (smaller class sizes, more teachers and EAs, and financial supports to school boards), the government risks an explosion of cases because of their commitment to austerity, aim to cripple public education, and persistence in driving an economy-vs-health narrative.
As I prepare my kids to return to in-class learning tomorrow, I am genuinely worried. And fully prepared to mobilize an army of parents, grandparents, and anyone connected to the education system to hold this government accountable for decisions that harm children, families, and teachers.