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Doug Ford is asking for help to decide what to do about reopening schools in Ontario

The reopening of schools in Ontario has been a highly contentious issue over the course of the pandemic, and especially recently as the province approaches the first major step in its gradual reopening plan.

As Premier Doug Ford said in a press conference last week, there are people on both sides of the issue, some saying in-person learning should have resumed weeks ago and others bemoaning the thought of doing so this soon.

"We have some differing opinions," he said to media last Thursday.

"[Chief Medical Officer of Health] Dr. Williams is in favour of opening the schools, but we have a few doctors on the science table that aren't in favour. Then we have the teachers that want to put an injunction in if we move forward. So we just have to get around the table and make sure we have agreement on this."

As has been the case with numerous issues pertaining to the health crisis, Ford is stuck between a rock and a hard place and admits he may not know what's best and is no expert — so he's asking for advice from those who are to help make this difficult decision.

The premier wrote a public letter to various health officials on Thursday asking for their input on if they feel reopening classrooms is safe, when it should happen, whether teachers should have to be fully vaccinated and how much of a threat new variants of concern pose, among other questions.

In the letter, Ford acknowledges that there have been "diverse and conflicting views" on the subject, and "a range of advice and commentary."

He also cites new modelling from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table that indicates new case loads across the province could increase from six to 11 per cent if in-class learning resumes.

"No one wants to see our schools reopen safely more than I do," he pens.

"Our government understands the benefits of having children learning in class. At the same time, our top priority is to ensure any decision we make on school reopening is based on sound scientific advice, consensus and considers potential or future risks."

Ford is seeking a response from 55 recipients, which include children's hospitals, health organizations and various medical experts, by 5 p.m. tomorrow, May 28.

Lead photo by

Premier of Ontario Photography

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