Published: Sat, May 29, 2021
Economy | By

Premier Ford Seeking Advice Regarding Reopening Schools

Premier Ford Seeking Advice Regarding Reopening Schools

In the letter Ford says that his government understands "the mental health, academic and other challenges some students have faced with at-home learning, particularly those from low-income, racialized and high needs neighbourhoods".

"With improving trends and capacity and strong safety protocols that reduce risk in schools, we would support a return to in-person learning in our jurisdiction at this time", Loh said.

The Canadian Paediatric Society, the province's biggest children's hospitals and other medical and child advocacy groups last week implored Ford, Lecce, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health, to reopen schools immediately.

NDP Education Critic Marit Stiles says Ford's letter seeking input comes "troublingly late".

But at the same time he said that his government is expecting new modelling this week which will suggest that a return to the classroom could result in daily case counts rising to between 2,000 and 4,000 a day by the end of July. Is the reopening of schools for in person learning safe for teachers and all education staff?

In the letter, Ford cites a recent study from Public Health England by the United Kingdom government, which he claims indicated a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine was just 33 per cent effective against the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant first identified in India.

Skube asked Dr. Etches if she would like to see schools open next week, if possible.

"We need now to ensure there is broad consensus from our medical, public health, and education experts that returning to school is the right thing to do", Ford's letter said.

It pointed out more recent variants of the original virus have surged elsewhere and are making children sicker, are potentially more deadly and are more resistant to vaccines and also acknowledged that the most vulnerable students in Ontario have been hit hardest.

Many of those stakeholders Ford has appealed to have been increasingly vocal about both the lack of safety measures at schools and the dangers of keeping children home any longer.

"If we were directed by the ministry to return to in-person learning this school year, we should be able to get up and running relatively quickly - perhaps a few days", Ryan Bird said.

Ontario has reached a key milestone in the fight against COVID-19.

"ETFO firmly believes that in-person instruction is the best experience for students, but it must be done safely, without risk to the health and well-being of students and education workers", Sam Hammond said.

"The decision whether or not to re-open schools for in-person learning is a complex one".

The modelling from the Ontario Science Table has suggested that reopening schools will lead to an increase in cases in the province of Ontario, is this acceptable and safe?

Other countries are warning mutations including the B.1.617 variant are putting children at much greater risk and are shutting schools down. He cites provincial stats showing that while 62% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, just 41% of teachers have received that level of protection.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, Ontario's teachers and education workers have supported the safe, regional reopening of schools", the unions wrote.

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