Education Minister hopeful for “normal” school year, despite fourth wave of COVID-19

As another pandemic school year approaches, COVID-19 concerns amongst parents and staff are still prevalent.

With the Delta variant making its way across the country, and daily case numbers rising, many are questioning the province’s plan of “business as usual”.

Provincial Education Minister Dustin Duncan says he’s hopeful students will return to school full-time in a few weeks.

“We’re hopeful that it’s going to be as close to a normal school year as possible, but obviously that will depend on the local situation, the local circumstances, and what’s happening, broadly speaking, across the province,” said Duncan. “But we’re working closely with everybody, and excited about the school year in a couple of weeks.”

Duncan says the government supports installed over the last year will go a long way to helping schools stay open this year.

He adds if there’s one positive about entering a third Covid school year, is that school divisions know what to expect.

“We’ve been at this for a year and a half, its affected two school years so far,” said Duncan. “And we want to, as much as possible, ensure that it causes the least disruption to a third school year.”

With vaccines not yet available to children under the age of 12, Duncan says the best way to ensure their protection is to boost vaccination rates in eligible children.

When asked if he was satisfied with vaccination rates amongst school-aged children, Duncan says it could always be higher.

“I think we’re going to see it go higher, I think we’ll see as we get closer to the school year, and people are coming home from summer holidays, and things like that, I think we will just a natural increase in the vaccination rate,” said Duncan. “I’m satisfied at this point; it could always be higher. We’re not at 100 percent, so it could always be higher, but I’m certainly satisfied at this point.”

Duncan says the government and its partners will continue to keep an eye on the COVID-19 situation in the province, and ensures parents that safety is always top of mind.

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