TORONTO, ON – Doug Ford’s half-baked plan to reopen schools is nothing short of a catastrophe for parents, students, and teachers. The plan falls short of even the basic standards set out by SickKids yesterday and blatantly ignores recommendations from school boards, teachers, healthcare associations, and parents.
“Parents across Ontario have been waiting anxiously for a plan to reopen schools safely – today they got one written on the back of a napkin,” said Steven Del Duca, Leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. “None of the concerns parents raised have been addressed. None.”
“On Monday we released a detailed, costed plan to safely reopen schools. That plan was budgeted at $3.2 billion – Doug Ford’s plan is just not serious. He’s showing up with only 10% of what both education and healthcare experts told us would be needed. By shortchanging our schools, Doug Ford is putting our kids and our economy at risk.”
Doug Ford’s school reopening plan gets a failing grade on every measure. The SickKids’ report makes clear a proper plan must include:
- Small Class Sizes
- Significant amount of new caretakers (custodians and cleaning staff)
- Adequate mental health support
Doug Ford’s plan fails every measure set out by SickKids. $80 million for additional staff is barely enough for a caretaker at one in three schools. Today’s money for school mental health still doesn’t reverse the cuts Doug Ford made to mental health investments in the 2018 Budget.
Yesterday’s report from SickKids confirmed that the Ontario Liberal’s Students in Schools Action Plan provides a strong roadmap that the government should follow.
SickKids said: “Smaller class sizes should be a priority strategy as it will aid in physical distancing and reduce potential spread from any index case [first case]. Several jurisdictions have reopened schools with maximum class sizes ranging from 10-15.” (page 10)
Doug Ford’s Plan Doesn’t Do That: Ford’s education plan will not have small class sizes for elementary school students.
SickKids said: “The ability of the public school system to effectively carry out its mission will depend in part on the resources made available to the schools. Personnel considerations include the potential need for trained screeners at school entry, health-care providers working with the schools (e.g. telephone or virtual support, on-site support), additional custodian and cleaning staff, and an expanded number of teachers, guidance counsellors, social workers, psychologists and support teachers.” (page 3)
Doug Ford’s Plan Doesn’t Do That: $80 million for additional staff is barely enough for a caretaker at one in three schools.
SickKids said: ”The ability of the public school system to effectively carry out its mission will depend in part on the resources made available to the schools… Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene supplies (soap and hand sanitizer). In particular, bus drivers and transportation to school is an important consideration that will need detailed recommendations, including bus scheduling options, addressing bus capacity, and other safe operational considerations. Learning materials will be needed as well. Addressing structural deficiencies, such as large class sizes, small classrooms and poor ventilation, must be part of any plan to reopen schools.” (page 3)
Doug Ford’s Plan Doesn’t Do That: Ford’s plan will not introduce small classrooms and it contains no money to address structural deficiencies.
SickKids said: “Accessible mental health support services adapted for diverse groups and at-risk populations should be provided, ideally in collaboration with educators, mental health professionals, and paediatricians.” (page 17)
Doug Ford’s Plan Doesn’t Do That: Ford cut $25 million from mental health supports from students. He is adding $20 million, stil leaving a cut of $5 million.