ontario back to school plan

Toronto public school blasts Ontario for back-to-school plan

Parents, teachers, politicians and members of the public have expressed major concerns regarding the province's back-to-school plan for September, and now the advisory council for one Toronto public school has sent a letter outlining some of those concerns. 

The Duke of Connaught School Advisory Council (SAC) sent a letter to all TDSB Trustees, MPP Peter Tabuns, Premier Doug Ford, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles this week to point out the ways in which the Ministry of Education reopening guidelines, as well as the subsequent TDSB guidelines, are not enough to keep kids and teachers safe. 

The letter was sent ahead of a TDSB Committee special meetings taking place this week, and it specifies exactly what the SAC believes needs to happen to ensure a safe return to school. 

"The Ministry of Education guidelines for school reopening are NOT in keeping with the published protocols delineated by Sick Children's Hospital, nor are they up to date with the recent scientific findings with regards to contagion in children, and viral load," reads the letter.

"We require concrete actions from you to make a safe reopening possible."

Specifically, the Duke of Connaught SAC is requesting that face masks or coverings be made mandatory for all students who do not have a medical exemption, including those in JK, SK and Grades 1 through 3. 

Currently, under provincial and TDSB guidelines, masks will only be required for all students between Grades 4 and 12, while younger students will be encouraged to wear them but will have the option. 

The letter also calls for classrooms to have a maximum of 15 students in them at any given time to allow for proper physical distancing. 

If this is not possible, the SAC says classes should be held outside or in a gymnasium or auditorium to make physical distancing of at least two metres possible. 

Several other demands are included in the letter, including that sufficient funding be provided and allocated so that all the necessary changes can be properly made to ensure that the return to in-person schooling is safe. 

These demands and concerns echo those expressed by countless Ontarians in recent weeks following the government's school reopening announcement, and many parents have even indicated that they're considering home-schooling to avoid facing the health risks associated with sending their kids back in September under the current circumstances.

Concerned residents have also consistently stated that the amount of funding promised by the Ministry of Education is simply not enough to ensure health and safety are a priority when the new school year rolls around.

"We know that the only way we will keep our students, staff and their families safe and their well-being prioritized is by working in partnership to solve logistical hurdles and think of creative solutions to a safe reopening," the letter states. 

"We unequivocally know that we can not ignore what science and experiences from other jurisdictions are telling us about how COVID-19 spreads," it continues.

"We must do whatever it takes to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spreading in our school and community while keeping the love of school and joy of learning alive and well at Duke." 

The Duke of Connaught SAC's letter was based on another letter advocating for safer school protocols written by the Secord Public School SAC, which was featured on a Facebook group for school councils, and the latter allowed the former to use parts of their letter.

"We would like to acknowledge that the SAC at Secord Public School were the authors of an extensive letter regarding the return to school protocols.  As our parents and community shared the concerns they outlined, the Secord SAC graciously allowed us to use their content in our letter," reads a statement from the Duke SAC.

"We thank them for allowing us to piggyback on their efforts as we all work together to achieve the safe return to school that all TDSB students deserve."

Lead photo by

Duke of Connaught SAC

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