Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent sits in the legislative assembly during a sitting in 2017. Kent said that school councils should also have been consulted by the government in preparation for the new school year in the fall. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon Party argues school councils should be consulted about next school year

The Yukon Party claims teachers and school councils have not been consulted about how education will be delivered for the 2020-2021 school year, while the government maintains it has consulted with teachers and principals.

Premier Sandy Silver informed the public that the government was consulting with school staff on the next school year during the June 2 COVID-19 update.

Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent, however, said that school councils should also have been consulted.

The party had sent out a letter to school councils last week asking if there were any consultations, to which it received a negative response. The party got in touch with “a dozen” school councils after the premier’s statements. It says it was told there were no consultations.

“They haven’t heard anything about a draft plan,” Kent said. “They haven’t been consulted or asked what will work on a school by school basis.”

The Yukon Party did not share which school councils they spoke with, citing the party wanting to protect the councils from reprisals.

He adds that some teachers have reached out to the party, before the letter went out, expressing concern of the lack of teacher involvement in the planning committee for education.

He pointed out the reopening plans did call for consultations on education to take place in May and June. Kent feels this is concerning since he claims there appears to have been no substantive conversations on what the fall will look like.

“There is lots of rumours and speculation flying around about shorter weeks or days being shortened and what it’s going to look like but again it up to the minister and the premier and his government to let Yukoners know as soon as possible,” Kent said.

He added that parents need to know this information because if any of these rumours are true, they will need to make arrangements.

Kyle Nightingale, a Department of Education spokesperson, told the News on June 4 that the government is planning with teachers and principals on how to adapt school operations regarding the pandemic for the next school year.

Nightingale added that the Yukon Teachers’ Association and First Nations are also part of these conversations.

“We have had initial conversations with principals, the Yukon Teachers’ Association and Yukon First Nations and we will continue conversations with partners in education as we look toward the 2020-21 school year,” Nightingale said.

He said there will be more information shared next week regarding the plans for the next school year, which is set to begin in August, and encouraged parents to submit school bus registration to the department by June 19.

Contact Gord Fortin at gord.fortin@yukon-news.com