“Students, families, teachers, and education workers – everyone – we all want students back in school, safely enjoying the benefits of in-person learning. What our students and communities cannot endure is more school closures and the resulting whiplash disruptions to the learning environment.
What will it take for the Ford government to finally act and invest in the necessary health and safety measures repeatedly called for by education and public health experts so that schools can reopen, and stay open, safely?
At more than 28 weeks, Ontario’s students have suffered the longest in-class pandemic-related learning disruption of any jurisdiction in North America. The resulting chaos and learning loss have had detrimental consequences for our students, negatively impacting their academic success, mental health, and well-being.
Why does the Ford government think its half-measures will work this time, after they have repeatedly failed students, parents, teachers, education workers, and all Ontarians over the past two years?
For a safe and sustainable learning and working environment in Ontario schools, Catholic teachers continue to call on the Ford government to prioritize access to booster shots for all teachers and education workers across the entire province, not just those in the greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
Additionally, the government must ensure that PCR and rapid antigen tests are widely available to everyone in schools, case counts are reinstated and joined by a comprehensive COVID-19 testing and tracing program, all teachers and education workers are immediately supplied with non-fit-tested N95 masks, and students are provided with the best possible masks, with improved guidelines to ensure masking compliance.
To provide the greatest level of protection to our students and communities, Catholic teachers urge the government to reduce class sizes to promote physical distancing. We also believe that everyone working in, or attending school who is eligible to be vaccinated, should be vaccinated. COVID-19 must be added to the list of designated diseases in Ontario Regulation 261/13 Designated Diseases under the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA), requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and coupled with a robust public campaign promoting the importance of student vaccination.
The government must also improve ventilation and install HEPA filters in all classrooms and public areas in schools, with publicly available metrics and standards, in recognition and acceptance of the fact that the virus is airborne.
Catholic teachers have continued to go above and beyond throughout the pandemic to best support student success, despite the challenging circumstances that continue to be exacerbated by a lack of support, communication, and meaningful consultation from the Ford government.”
- Barb Dobrowolski, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association