Let’s work together to ensure #SafetyForAll

The challenges our schools will face this year are unprecedented in Ontario’s education history. Join thousands of Ontarians coming together in support of our front line education workers who want a plan that makes #SafetyforAll possible.

Ontario’s front line Education Workers want to make our schools and communities safer.

Throughout the summer, the Ford Government said it leaned on the Hospital for SickKids’ ‘COVID-19 Guidance for School Reopening’ report to guide their own plan. We know that while they implemented some of these recommendations, they chose to ignore what SickKids called a ‘priority strategy’: smaller class sizes to ensure physical distancing.

On September 14, SickKids put theory into practice and released the initial findings of their COVID-19 classroom simulation.  The simulation included over 190 students of all ages and 15 teachers from both public and independent schools, and noted two significant findings:

  • Teachers played a critical role in the set-up and design of the school days. Their intimate knowledge of classrooms and procedures, combined with their active involvement in the planning process, allowed for smooth and creative implementation of the health and safety measures.
  • It was not possible to maintain a two-metre distance between students and accommodate more than 12-15 students in the classroom

These findings revealed what we already knew: front line educators play a key role in implementing a plan that prioritizes learning needs and safety for students, and the importance of following the advice of medical professionals when it comes to class size.

Our Recommendations for #SafetyForall
All students to be required to wear masks
Based on current public health guidance recommending the use of non-medical cloth masks/face coverings in indoor public settings, the use of masks should be extended to all students whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained (provided there is no contra-indication for developmental, medical, or mental health reasons).
Smaller class sizes to ensure physical distancing
In its guidance for a safe reopening, the SickKids report clearly states, “smaller class sizes should be a priority strategy” to ensure physical distancing. But no plans have been announced to identify unused spaces to serve as classrooms and thus far, only $30 million has been provided to local school boards to hire additional staff.
Funding for additional safety, health, and mental health services
Our students have undergone a difficult year. The pandemic has uprooted the academic and social supports that many of them rely on. We need a significant investment in mental health services to ensure our students have the supports they need as they return to school.
Infection control practices in line with local standards
The same level of preparedness and safety protocols mandated by local public health units need to be put in place across every school in Ontario. This can further reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in our schools, and will help maintain a consistent standard of safety within communities.
Funded sick leave for parents and guardians
While some families have the financial flexibility to adapt to potential school closures, others do not. We must create the conditions where ALL families will be assured that while they look after their child, their pay cheque will remain the same.
Additional funding for custodial staff
The Ford government has committed $75 million in funding for “cleaning, cleaning protocols, and financial support to hire additional custodial staff.” Their plan only provides enough funding to hire one additional custodian for 25% of the schools in Ontario.  Does this sound like enough to ensure a sanitary environment for Ontario’s two million students?
If you think #SafetyforAll means equipping Ontario’s front line education workers with the necessary resources, send a letter to the Premier and your local MPP today!
Join thousands of Ontarians who have already taken action and email your MPP right now.
Email your MPP today! Let them know that Ontario’s education workers are best equipped to create an engaging and safe learning environment for our students.  In order to do so, they need the necessary resources.