UPDATE: Premier Doug Ford said that an announcement on Ontario schools will be made by the Chief Medical Officer on Thursday afternoon. Read about that here.
The Ontario government is expected to share details on whether or not students will be heading back to school for in-class learning next week.
During Wednesday’s presser, Ford was asked if the reopening of schools next week was not a possibility given that the province is currently under lockdown.
Ford, unable to give a definite answer, shared they will be disclosing the information in the coming days.
“We’re going to talk to the health table and Chief Medical Officer and get their advice. That’s the expertise that we’re going to take,” said Ford.
“We are going to take that advice and will be announcing that in the next day or so.”
However, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is calling on Medical Officers of Health in public health units to “use their authority” and the government to reconsider students heading back to in-class learning.
“Educators know that in-person learning provides the most effective and equitable learning environment, but unfortunately, we are at the height of this pandemic. It makes no sense for the government to send students, teachers and education workers back to school while the province is locked for another two to three weeks,” said Sam Hammond, President of ETFO.
“Despite repeated calls for adequate safety measures, the government has refused to implement them in a misguided effort to save money, jeopardizing the health and safety of students, educators and their families.”
According to the ETFO, the government’s “failure to listen to the advice of medical professionals has resulted in the current crisis we are facing.”
On Wednesday morning, the province confirmed 3,266 new COVID-19 cases, a noticeable spike from Tuesday’s 3,128 cases.
There are now a total of 200,626 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.
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“We also continue our advocacy to ensure that the government acknowledge and address the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on marginalized communities, in particular racialized and low-income families,” said Hammond.
Though the vaccination rollout in the province is in the process, the ETFO claims that more should be done before even considering reopening schools.
“A safe return cannot be ensured unless urgent and immediate actions are taken to implement a safety plan that reduces class sizes, improves ventilation, and introduces broad in-school asymptomatic testing when in-person attendance resumes,” said the ETFO.