Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he is open to the idea of outdoor learning for students when they return to school in the fall.
On Wednesday, the premier said he wants to get the kids “safely in the classroom five days a week,” especially elementary students who need more supervision than high school students.
One way to provide a five-day schedule is to have kids learning outdoors, which Ford said he is open to, as people need to “be creative” with solutions.
“I was talking to a teacher the other day and a school board trustee, and I just sort of said off the cuff that the big highlight when I was going to school was that the teacher would say we are going to have class outside under a tree, and I said, ‘Is that a ridiculous question?’ and they said ‘No, that is what we are pushing four at our board,’” Ford said.
“At least in September, weather permitting, the kids can go outside as much as possible and learn outside. We just have to adapt and try to get through this, especially through September. October and November, hopefully we will see some real positive numbers.”
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Ford said that alternatives to classroom learning settings is up to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, who needs to consult with the school boards.
But he added that Lecce is aware and understands that parents want a five-day week.
“I have always said that in business and in politics, no idea is a ridiculous idea,” Ford said.
“Let’s come up with ideas. We are all in this together. We need the parents’ ideas, we need the teachers and the school boards and the ministry, and most of all we need the kids.”
In June, the Ontario government created three plans for how students could return to class in the fall.
The three options include returning full time to in-person instruction while adhering to public health measures, continuing remote learning, or taking part in the hybrid model, which sees a maximum of 15 students per class on alternative days or weeks.