The Government of Manitoba's opposition, the New Democratic Party of Manitoba, has come up with an alternative plan for the Pallister government to consider when finalizing its back-to-school strategy amid COVID-19. The governing Progressive Conservatives are expected to unveil details of their plan this week.

NDP leader Wab Kinew is proposing a five-point, $26 million education investment strategy with support from the federal government. The plan calls for 400 additional teachers to be hired over the next school year to accommodate proposed smaller classes of 15 students, expanded classroom space, the purchase of PPE and cleaning supports, as well as investments in mental health and bus transportation.

"I think for many families the return to school is going to be the next big milestone in terms of the pandemic and recovery, and for Manitoba families, I think we've got to balance two things that are really important to get right," Kinew says. "One is to keep kids safe from COVID-19, but the other is to make sure kids are getting what they need as far as education and childhood development, and I think in order to strike that balance we've got to make some investments in the education system right now."

Additionally, Kinew believes it will be important to ensure that childcare centres located in Manitoba school aren't pushed out to create extra classroom spaces.

Meantime, the NPD is calling for the government to scrap its education review, the results of which have been delayed release due to COVID-19.

"That review was conducted before the pandemic and the report was prepared, and I think we can all agree that any sort of assumption made before COVID-19 is irrelevant now. The world has changed so much and so if we are going to look at changes in the education system, and I do think there are a lot of ways to work with teachers and students to improve education in Manitoba, we need a fresh start at this point."