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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. 

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.

"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."

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. 

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.

On top of that, the premier and education minister have chosen to attack teachers for demanding a better plan, calling them "complainers" and saying they're creating problems where there are none. 

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."

Lead photo by

James Griffith


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