Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that Ontario’s back to school plan is the best in the country, as concerns arise with the start of the academic year just a month away.
On Thursday, Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce emphasized that Ontario’s additional $309 million funding for schools to have a conventional workweek addresses key safety issues for students.
“We have the best plan bar none over every province. All of the other provinces are shouting and screaming that they want Ontario’s plan,” Ford said.
The premier added that the plan is informed by the best pediatricians and health professionals, which Lecce said addresses the principle health concerns by implementing face mask and physical distancing policies.
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Lecce added that the $309 million more in funding makes Ontario the leading province in directed money towards education during the pandemic.
“We have more money per capita than in BC,” he said.
“Ontario leads the way, we have the most comprehensive masking policy by mandating masks for kids in grade 4 and up.”
Leece also said that by embedding 500 public health nurses it will keep children safe, as there will be enhanced screening and surveillance for students.
There will also be an additional 1,300 custodians in Ontario to make sure schools are clean.
“We have taken a multitude of actions and layers of prevention to de-risk the circumstances. The money responds to the challenges.”
When asked again about not decreasing classroom size for elementary school students, Lecce said that 90% of cases are capped at 20 students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 with two educators per space.
“No province has adjusted their caps or ratios,” he added.
And with the one metre distancing rule required in classrooms, Lecce said that having fewer students is not necessary.