Ontario Premier Doug Ford defended his government’s decision to not reduce classroom sizes for elementary students when school starts in September.
On Wednesday, Ford said that classroom sizes for kindergarten and grades 1 to 3 are the lowest in the country, and that if he could, he would have only five kids per class.
“If up to us we’d have five kids in the class. But we have the lowest amount of kids on junior kindergarten, and grades 1 to 3 in the country,” Ford said.
He added that in kindergarten, class size is capped at 30 students with an early childhood educator (ECE) and student teacher, and grades 1 to 3 are capped at 20 students, with grades 4 to 8 having 23 students and the same maximum for high school grades.
While secondary students will have class cohorts of around 15 students, on alternate days, or alternate schedules, the same is not happening for elementary age children.
But Ford noted he is following the best advice from medical experts, like SickKids, who advised the back to school plan.
“We have more guidelines in place than anyone in the country… I’ll do whatever it takes to protect the kids. At the end of the day, who’s responsible? This guy right here, I’m responsible. I personally think we have the best plan in the entire country.”
Ford said that two options are available for parents who can either bring their children to school, which he says the vast majority want, or they can keep their children at home for remote learning.
“We’re doing everything we can. I’m not holding back on a penny here. We are spending more money per student than anywhere else.”
However, when pointed out that SickKid’s plan says that smaller class sizes should be a priority, the premier noted that the province is spending “a fortune” on “protecting everyone.”
“I wish I had the magical wand to say everyone is fine. We’re relying on the best health minds in the country.”
On July 30, the $309 million funding plan was released, which provided more spending for PPE and recommended that children in grades 4 and up wear face masks.