Ontario teachers are sharing photos of crowded classrooms to prove schools aren't safe
As some students in Ontario have already returned to school and others prepare to go back next week, teachers across the province have been sharing photos of their classrooms to prove just how unsafe the situation really is.
Ontario's educators have been using social media as a tool to disprove what Premier Ford and Education Minister Lecce have been touting as "the best plan in the country" by posting photos of classrooms with desks in close proximity.
This is my classroom setup for this year. 25 grade 7s. Who gets the middle seats @Sflecce? Who sits way back in the corner, where there’s no room for a chair @fordnation? This is what an #UnsafeSeptember looks like. @ETFOeducators pic.twitter.com/c1LOZGRm1l— Angie (@RaisingMyBoyz) September 1, 2020
The images show classes with upwards of 20 desks, many of which are placed far less than two metres apart and appear to leave little to no space for social distancing.
Newsflash, our students here in Ontario will be sitting as close together as they always did as well. Here’s my classroom, 29 desks waiting for students. pic.twitter.com/8RrLxNaYTm— Chris Forde (@Forde_Chris1) September 4, 2020
"I managed to squeeze in 34 desks. There's no distancing. There's no way it's up to fire code. But @fordnation @Sflecce say we have the 'best plan in the country' and the 'lowest class sizes'. Uh huh," wrote one Ontario teacher on Twitter along with a photo of his crowded classroom.
"We can't even distance in the hallways. There will be 1200 students in this building starting September 8."
My colleague’s grade 8 classroom in TVDSB.— Kathleen Décosse (@decosse_k) September 2, 2020
“Here's my Grade 8 classroom. 26 desks. 5cm is about as much "distance" we are going to get around here...ironically, there are stickers on the floor by my sink for hand washing saying to keep 2m apart 🤦🏻♀️” @etfopresident #UnsafeSeptember pic.twitter.com/xleU8UsQxY
The province has encouraged teachers to do everything possible to arrange classrooms in a way that allows for distancing, including by removing unnecessary furniture and placing desks at least one (elementary and middle school) or two ( high school) metres apart.
But for many of Ontario's teachers, small classrooms along with large class sizes mean this simply isn't possible.
Hey @sflecce & @fordnation— Mr. Cannon (@MrCannon_19) September 2, 2020
I fit 24 desks w/ 1m spacing!
No room for a teacher desk, learning centre, library, quiet table, smartboard, art centre but we can manage.
The problem? There are 28 kids (currently) on my roster.#UnsafeSeptember #onted
Here’s my class @maritstiles pic.twitter.com/PBG3iqQp8G
Lecce and Ford have been fighting with educators and parents since the back-to-school discussion began earlier this summer, with class sizes being one of the top concerns expressed by teachers' unions.
The government did introduce targeted funding to help schools open safely, including allowing boards to dip into reserve funds and providing money to hire more teachers, but teachers' unions and school boards have said it's simply not enough to ensure a safe September.
I guess I’m a complainer then, because I don’t think that only having the room to space my student’s desks 60cm apart in my classroom is acceptable. We are told we need to keep a 2m distance EVERYWHERE else in Ontario. Why not in schools? @fordnation @Sflecce pic.twitter.com/Cys28M4vVM— Tea Cup Teacher (@CupTeacher) September 4, 2020
The two have also posed for photo ops in classrooms where desks are spread out with plenty of space in between them, but Ontario teachers have been quick to point out that this simply isn't the reality in most schools.
"Thirty or more kids crammed into one small classroom wasn't ok before the pandemic when Mr. Ford was cutting teachers and education workers and hiking class sizes," said NDP leader Andrea Horwath of the decision not to cap class sizes back in August.
"Now, it's downright dangerous."
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