“Premier Ford’s rhetoric about a province-wide crisis, including skyrocketing cases for children and youth, does not align with his government’s decision to keep some schools open and allow in-person learning for students with special education needs in others without putting in place all necessary safety measures.
The government’s approach to-date of making partial announcements of belated half-measures raises more questions than answers. It is imperative that Premier Ford and Minister Lecce move immediately to convene an advisory table of all education stakeholders to engage in meaningful consultation and implement a clear and transparent plan for Ontario’s schools. This plan must include a robust infection surveillance system, proper ventilation, and reduced class sizes to increase physical distancing. In the meantime, while we understand the strain remote learning puts on students, families, and school staff, there does not seem to be any way around the need for the Ministry of Education to temporarily move all schools to remote learning for all students across the province during the state of emergency period. If the government is unwilling to act, then we call on local public health units to step in, as has already occurred in several regions.
Everyone wants schools to be open. But with the Ford government’s failure to control the spread of COVID-19, and their stubborn refusal to swiftly implement health and safety measures in schools, it is simply not safe or sustainable. The only way we can move forward is if the Ford government finally dispenses with the empty rhetoric and acknowledges its responsibility to lead a strong public response to contain the spread of COVID-19.”
Liz Stuart, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association