TORONTO - The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) has issued the following statement from President Barb Dobrowolski, calling on Ontarians to join OECTA in demanding that the Ford government immediately reinstate the masking mandate in Ontario schools:
“Students, families, teachers, and education workers – everyone – we all want students in school, safely enjoying the benefits of in-person learning. What our students and communities cannot endure are more stress and anxiety from insufficient safety measures, school closures, and whiplash disruptions to the learning environment.
To make our schools safe and to keep them open, Catholic teachers call on the Ford government to immediately reinstate the mask mandate in Ontario’s schools.
The Ford government has gone to great lengths to conceal the extent to which COVID-19 is spreading in our schools and communities, but the facts speak for themselves.
COVID-19 is not over. Teacher and education worker absences related to COVID-19 are going unfilled at an unprecedented rate. The number of children being admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms is spiking. As per data from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, case counts are skyrocketing, with COVID-19 wastewater measurements indicating that the province is now seeing more than 100,000 cases a day.
All the while, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has not made a public appearance in weeks, and members of the Ford government seem more focused on their re-election campaigns than on protecting the health and safety of Ontarians.
The Association warned the Ford government that it was premature to drop the masking requirement after March Break, as the break has typically been associated with increased travel, congregation, and, as a result, viral transmission. Doug Ford refused to listen. Just as he has refused to listen to public health and education experts throughout the pandemic, failing repeatedly to implement robust testing and improved ventilation in schools, despite promises to do so, and then going so far as to suspend COVID-19 tracking in schools to hide his failures.
Schools are the largest daily gathering places in Ontario, and masking remains one of the most effective proactive and protective measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission in our communities and classrooms. For the safety and well-being of our children, it is imperative that the Ford government follow the science, drop the political posturing, and immediately reinstate the masking mandate for everyone working and learning in schools. Ontario’s students have already suffered enough.”
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