back to school plan ontario

Parents are threatening to pull their kids from school after Ontario reveals plan

On Thursday, the provincial government finally released the details of its plan for getting kids back into classrooms this fall, and — though it includes measures like face coverings and on-the-ground public health nurses — some parents, teachers and students are still feeling wary about school resuming full-time and in-person in just five weeks' time.

The hashtag #UnsafeSeptember has popped up on social media, with people taking issue with everything from proposed class sizes (which will remain unchanged, save for some "at-risk" high schools) to social distancing protocols (one metre between students, plus masks for those in Grades 4 through 12).

Though Ontario's COVID-19 stats have been trending downward and dwindled to fewer than 1,400 active cases with 89.5 per cent of all documented cases in the province now resolved, given the close-contact nature of both school settings and kids themselves, many are worried about schools serving as a prime ground for future outbreaks.

Some parents are simply vowing not to send their children back to schools when they reopen, as the province has maintained that remote-only learning will remain an option for whoever chooses it and many simply don't feel comfortable with the risk.

But, Ford and his team have also reiterated the importance of in-person learning to student success and mental health.

"COVID-19 has had a profound mental health impact on our kids, and now more than ever, reopening schools is crucial to the social and emotional development of Ontario's students," Lecce said at a press conference on Thursday, adding that "it is also crucial to allowing parents to return to work and supporting Ontario's economic recovery."

Children have represented a significantly lower number of cases of the communicable disease worldwide than any other age group, in part because their lungs have a lower amount of a specific enzyme called ACE2, which scientists call "the doors that allow SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, to enter the body's cells."

Youth are also less likely to have the pre-existing conditions that contribute to a more severe presentation of and potential fatality from the virus.

As the province wades into Stage 3 of reopening, many residents are holding out for a vaccine, an effective treatment or simply lower COVID-19 numbers before they jump at the opportunity to dine at their local restaurant or put their kids back in a classroom.

Lead photo by

Jeck Hitchcock

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