Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that he is “nervous” for children returning to school in September, but fully believes in the plan to ensure students are safe in class.
On Tuesday, Ford acknowledged parents anxieties with kids returning to class in September for a five-day week.
“For the parents that are nervous I understand I’m nervous as a premier,” he said. “I’ll be losing sleep up to September to make sure students are safe. There is nothing more important to me and number one concern is make sure our kids are safe.”
But the premier noted that the plan, released last week, to get students back to school five-days a week in the fall is one that he “respects.”
“They’re the experts, we’re not the experts. We went with some of the brightest minds in the world.”
He praised the guidance from SickKids, University Health Network, and the province’s health officials.
Ford added that if parents are uncomfortable with their kids going back to class, they can hold them back to learn remotely and if a child is sick, to immediately take them to a doctor.
Ford said with two million students going back to school and 160,000 teachers, it is “absolutely concerning but we have some of the most stringent rules in the entire country.”
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He compared Ontario’s plan to have cohorts of 15 students per class to British Columbia which he said will have cohorts of 60 to 150 students, and that face masks are not required in that province, nor in Alberta.
But in Ontario, face masks are recommended to students from Grade 4 to high school, with older students only required to do half a day in class.
“We put in $80 million to hire more staff and cleaning services and we are the only jurisdiction that are hiring 500 nurses specifically for schools at $50 million,” Ford said.
“I won’t spare a penny. SickKids have come up with an incredible plan. I fully understand why the parents are nervous, I’d be nervous if my kids were back in school.”
On July 30, Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced their school plan saying that the province is taking a multifaceted approach to keeping students safe, which includes an emphasis on self-screening, adapting school environments, hand hygiene, face coverings, smaller class size, distancing, and limiting visitors.