Stories of school re-opening
Parents, educators, administrators, custodians, school bus drivers and others who work in the education sector in Ontario are sharing stories about what they are experiencing in their communities. Read and watch them below.
We have not decided whether we will send our SK son back to his class of 24 students.
I am an infectious disease epidemiologist working on Covid and disgusted with our CMOH in Ontario. We know that, in order to slow the transmission of the virus in schools, we need to replicate what has been successful in the community. Namely, physical distancing. Class sizes need to be adapted where physical distancing of 2m is not possible to ensure the health and safety of our children – and our community.
Hayley and Brent A—Parents, Fergus
My kids go to a school that last year housed nearly 1200 but was built for 600. I am also an educator (secondary panel) so need to return to work. I am terrified of my older two children returning when there is clearly no way they can properly distance. I have already made the tough ca to put my youngest back in daycare when he was supposed to start JK this year. When I called my conservative MPP to voice my concerns, It fell on deaf ears and I was told that outbreaks are inevitable and that if I’m uncomfortable I should just not send them. As a working mom in 2020, that’s like choosing between my kid’s school and my kid‘s food. It’s an impossible choice.
I asked why when literally every health care professional, including Dr David Williams is saying the importance of distancing, when parliament is distanced and dance studios have to run on reduced numbers to distance, why does it not matter for schools – I was told to that there is no space, that “top professionals signed off on the plan”, that outbreaks will happen and that they’ve done all they can.
Distancing is the piece of the puzzle missing for my kids and myself to feel safe. In the meantime my anxiety is through the roof.
Every spring we spend 3-4 weeks putting together our secondary school timetable, then a few more weeks working with kids to optimize their personal timetables. Today is September 1 and this afternoon we are getting our new staffing numbers based on 160 fewer students, and numerous missing specialty teachers so we can restart the school timetable from scratch. School starts September 9. Since rejigging the way the semester has run, various times, due to government changes, nobody has asked students/parents if they are still satisfied with their in-school vs online choice. So these numbers may mean very little. Which means our new timetable may have to be pulled again.
It’s September 1 and not a single teacher knows what they are teaching September 9.
You say this website is for parents, as well as children and educators, but most parents won’t be able to go inside their children’s schools, let alone their classrooms, this year. Young children can’t be expected to accurately document their day and the setting they are learning in. Parents won’t really be able to see the state of the classroom, if the windows open and how much, how clean the bathrooms are being kept, what lunch time looks like, if social distancing is consistently happening. I completely understand the need to limit the number of adults inside the buildings, but at the same time, how can we make informed choices and advocate for our children if we don’t know the situation in our individual children’s classes. Things can vary greatly between schools in a Board and even within individual school classrooms. I am still trying to decide about sending my daughter to junior kindergarten mainly because of this lack of information about her classroom. School is starting very soon, and all the plans still feel incredibly vague.
My amazing teachers and principal are doing a fantastic job to make us feel safe and prepare for our children. They’ve been in great communication with the parents. We’re all ready to take on this challenge together. I’m grateful for the teachers, principals and public Health officials who have made it work during this challenging time. We’re all charting this new reality together. I’m sure there will be bumpy days ahead, but while community spread remains low, i’m comfortable with my son going to school.
Laryssa H—Parent, Toronto
Some school boards are taking more precautions than others. For example, in Sudbury where my sister lives, one board has installed plexiglass to separate kids and has purchased portable air exchangers for every class. in my kids’ school they would be less than 2 meters apart even when they are eating without a mask. Ventilation in many Ontario classes are terrible. I’m not sending my kids back yet. There could be better safeguards in place such as the simple ones listed above.
Anonymous—Parent, West Nipissing
First day back to school for Health and Safety training and teachers all over the province can’t get online to the training webinar portals. This is province wide. There’s an outage on Brightspace the webinar platform that was purchased by the MofE. Right now all teachers are sitting watching a blank screen.
Our school board sent parents a letter a few days ago with 3 remote learning options. The first one concerns me. It was for student to learn from home while watching their classroom teacher online. This concerns me, teachers should not have to teach face to face and online simultaneously. Main concern is privacy. There are many students and parents who will not agree to their child being on video while at school. There are situation that go on in a class room with special needs children that should not be open for other parents to see. The second thing that concerns me is that all along we have been told while the weather is nice the classes will be able to move outside as much as possible. How can a teacher teach online from outside?
It is the Upper Canada District School Board who has set this up.
Jenn L—Parent, Kemptville
We were all set to send the kids back to school . Since the announcement of the “plan” for in class learning, we were forced to keep the kids home.
We do not want our children sitting inside all day, in poorly ventilated space and/or a portable with a mask on ALL DAY. This is detrimental to their health and to their ability to learn and thrive in the school environment. How can they learn when they can’t see the teacher’s face, expressions or mouth? Or if they feel restricted? Same goes for the teachers! They can’t see if a child is upset, confused, etc. One of my children has much trouble wearing a mask for even 20 mins at the store saying she feels as though she cannot breathe. We have tried many different type of masks. She is afraid of going to school and being made to wear all day, a reality that I can’t control.
How can I, as a parent, do this to my child and feel good about it?
On top of this, the kids are being made to physically distance from each other, following arrows on the ground, no sports, no group work, nothing.
Our school has implemented a hand washing schedule by which kids are washing hands 12-15 times a day while at school. Also there is a major overuse of sanitizer. They are spending more time lining up and washing hands and doing scheduled bathroom breaks than they are learning.
Since our child’s physical school has already resumed in August, we have heard stories of teachers spraying chemicals on desks and chairs daily and the kids being made to wipe them down with paper towels themselves, exposing them to breathing in and touching cleaners and chemicals daily.
Anyone who thinks this “environment” is good for children needs to give their head a shake. This is detrimental to their mental and physical well-being. The Toronto Sick Kids hospital recommendations for return to school were completely ignored and our children will suffer.
If this is the environment that is needed for kids to go back to school, we shouldn’t have bothered reopening them.
I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to access the mandatory covid19 training offered by the TDSB for over an hour now without success. IT sent a blanket email saying there’s an issue. It’s not working for any of my colleagues either. First day of the 2020 school year is not inspiring optimism in my as a teacher or as a parent of two children attending tdsb schools.
We feel overwhelmed with anxiety over the current situation. We do not feel the plans in place will keep our children safe. Their school is already poorly maintained, we fear what it may look like with limited resources. We do not feel safe sending our children to crowded classrooms especially knowing our school is in a hotspot. They say classes will be cohorted but we are having a hard time believing this. We can’t risk our children’s health and safety.
The elementary school plan is full of flaws. In UGDSB they have reduced teachers due to low enrollment and increased classes to 26 in what would have been my son’s grade 7 class. 1 meter distancing is not appropriate and the only way to accomplish this is to reduce class sizes and increase teachers. Perhaps using arenas or community centers for space to be able to distance appropriately.
My son is starting SK in a couple of weeks at a TDSB school. I want him to return to school. my husband and I understand that there is a risk, but we are willing to take the risk while still maintaining precautions along with physical distancing from our elderly relatives. We are angry and disappointed that the teachers unions are yet again standing in the way of our sons progress. Teachers and parents were given a choice to return to school or work from home. We cannot help our son work from home as my husband and I both have full time jobs and cannot also do the job of teacher. We are now fearful that school may not even have the chance to begin because of the recent filing with the labor board. I’ve been working at my office since early June, taking risks but being as safe as I can while providing for my family. It is disappointing that the unions are not encouraging teachers to do the same.
I am a secondary school teacher who was excessed to conduct online learning. Due to the fact that I was excessed, the French Immersion Science program at the school will not be running as the school does not have anyone qualified to teach the course. Students will miss out on their French Immersion Science credit. My school has cancelled over 70 classes and 9 teachers have been told they will be teaching from home, without any additional money, ressources or training. I do not have a proper area to work and will not be provided with the ressources or training that I will require to be an effective teacher online. We still do not know what courses we will be teaching or who will be in our classes, what the daily schedule will look like etc. We have no information, no guidance.
Just received an email from my school stating that: First of all, I want to let everyone know that Mrs. Christine Almeida, who was to be our new principal, has been called back to her previous school. I will be taking over the role of Principal for St. Paul’s, and a new Vice Principal will be coming to join our school community. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to make St. Paul’s the best that it can be!
We are still creating class lists, but rest assured that we will do our best to place students in classes with some familiar friendly faces. Every class in the school will be joined with another class from our school, to create a “”cohort”” or group. The purpose of the cohort is to limit student interaction to 50 or fewer students, which will limit the chances of exposure to COVID. It will still allow for community building with another class within the school for the purposes of reading buddies and outdoor games. Throughout the school day, teachers will supervise two twenty-minute outside times for students in their cohort. The school has ordered St. Paul’s fanny packs for all students to wear throughout the day. Their masks will be safely placed inside during outside time. These fanny packs will be color-coded so students can more easily recognize their cohort while outside. We hope to have them ready for school start-up.
So the principal is leaving us with no explanation 😕 but on the up side all of the kids are getting colored coded fanny packs
I thought the teachers needed money for PPE and ventilation? This makes no sense to me. Waste of money and its sheer stupidity
My kids use a labeled ziploc bag for their masks already and its working fine. Why is the school spending $ on this???
Nina L—Parent, Alliston
I want to see Children happy , healthy and safe. I think classrooms should cap at 15 for the safety of all Ontario residences. If one child bring’s covid into a classroom of 30 and that classroom goes home and brings it to their families…we could see a lot of covid cases and more deaths among those at risk. Please cap classes at 15 to keep all of us safe.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Toronto
There’s already been multiple staff, from multiple buildings (including trades and admin staff) entering and working in the building without mask compliance and varying degrees of taking things seriously.
Hopeful mandatory mask compliance is taken more seriously when we actually open, but I have my doubts.
Andrew P—Custodian, Toronto
I’m a Grade 7 middle school teacher with the TDSB. Today, we were instructed to work remotely to learn the new safety protocols. I’ve been trying to log on to the system since 8:30 am this morning. It is now almost 10:30 am. I had arranged for child care so that I could be productive this morning. Unfortunately, this is just a waste of my valuable time.
I have two kids with autism and one is graduating from elementary school this year. I would find it detrimental if they didn’t go because the last six months have not been very productive for them. I am quite scared for them to go in person but no that’s the best thing. My confusion is when we started talking about going back to school in August I was told the days would be shorter. Knowing my children and most children, I don’t know how they’re going to keep a mask on for six hours. As adults we can’t do it we rip off our masks as soon as we get out of a store get out of a building. How on earth does Doug Ford expect this to continue?
“My name is Kimberly Girard. I am a health care worker, the wife of a small business owner and the mom of Quinn (4 years old ) and Cameron (16 months old)
Quinn is registered to start school for her first time in maternelle at École Catholique Nouveau Regard in Cochrane Ontario. I found out last night that her first day of school is September 8th.
Here are my major concerns and what is keeping me and my husband up at night.
-How can we teach her to stay far enough away from the other (up to)26 children that she will be sharing a space with? Even if the ratio for adult:child is 1:13 there are still 2 adults : 26 kids in the same space. She is affectionate by nature as are most 4 year olds. Will she be disciplined for going too close to others?
-Who will watch to make sure she keeps her mask on correctly when sitting on the bus with 48 other students who may or may not be in her cohort.The driver will be busy driving the bus.
– When she is scared, nervous or hurt who will console her and how. I am sure I am not the only parent who holds their crying child. She will be reaching for a hug. Will she be pushed away? She is used to some level of physical contact. At one time or another the teacher will be exposed to all 26 children, even with their surgical masks and face shield. Why do we keep pretending that distancing will be possible with this age group.
– My husband is a small business owner who can’t always leave work. What do I do when I’ve run out of vacation and sick days? Is there some job protection for parents that need to stay home with their kids on multiple occasions because they cannot return to school with symptoms they otherwise could have gone with ( ie runny nose with no fever) Between my 16 months old and my 4 year old I can only hope they get sick at the same time.
– What is the reasoning behind not having smaller classes given that it’s inevitable that they will be exposed to one another when in the same cohort ( especially in jk/sk) Can we agree that given their age, physical distancing in a play based environment is impossible. I’m more comfortable with my daughter being exposed to 14 other children rather than 26.
Kimberly G—Parent, Cochrane
As a Grade 9 student, I really don’t like the online school since March 20th. Because: 1. WE DON’T HAVE Zoom Or other platforms to talk with our teachers, they just posted the materials and ppt for us. Lots of students in my class complained that we sometimes couldn’t understand without someone teaching us.
If the online school is necessary in September, I really hope that we can have a platform to talk with teachers and also teachers can teach us remotely rather than independent study!
I have just been informed by my administration that we will not be practicing social distancing in classrooms BC it is not possible. We have also been told that we must work with small groups at guided reading tables which wholly eliminates any semblance of social distancing.
I am a school bus driver in the GTA, Durham Region. The information we have so far is that we will have up to 46 students per bus/school. No time to clean the bus between schools it will be done after morning and afternoon runs. This means that we’ll over 100 kids will be touching the same high touch areas both morning and afternoon. Plus how is it safe to load a bus with 46 students at a time? I mean it’s ok while we can keep the windows open, but what happens when it is raining or it starts getting cold and snowy? I used to love my job, but being stuck on a bus which is way smaller space than any class room with this many kids scares me.
Anonymous—School bus driver, Oshawa
No PPE, cleaners or sanitizers yet and special needs students are coming into our class Thursday. Why are other students being delayed a week but these children are allowed?! The school is FILTHY!!! I took photos and will be sharing widely. This should not be happening! Schools are NOT ready and I blame Lecce.
Anonymous—Support staff, Temiskaming Shores
My daughter is going into grade 8 with 27 students (yes this is the reduced size) as some are planning to do online school. My son is going into grade 9 with 15 students and the classrooms are MUCH BIGGER than my daughter’s classroom of 27 students. And that does not include the students who choose to come back to school (our board is allowing every two weeks to opt in and opt out of the classroom) so by the end of September they could be back up to their normal 32 students in the small classroom for 6 hours. How does the government justify the difference between a 13 year old and 14 year old and the amount of people they can be “cohorted” with….?
I would feel more comfortable even with a 20 cap….but 32 ???? Double the high school cap….how does this make sense?
Anonymous—Parent, Niagara Falls
Doug Ford is doing Fantastic Job keeping Ontario safe The greatest for Ontario the uncertain times have been handled well and we are growing better as we move forward we are secure and safe under Doug Ford.
We had “health and safety” training today. It included two powerpoints, a hand washing video and no practical advice. Are we staggering entry? Touching books? Teaching outside? No answers, but one slide asked us to discuss “concrete solutions, based on ideas you’ve seen elsewhere”.
I have just been informed by my administration that we will not be practicing social distancing in classrooms because it is not possible. We have also been told that we must work with small groups at guided reading tables which wholly eliminates any semblance of social distancing.
I am an ECE in childcare within a school. We currently have 8 children in our preschool, due to double in size next week.
This week one child had a cold, then 5 children had that cold. All of these families required testing and isolation. With all the safety and cleaning measures put in place (removal of carpets, disinfection multiple times per day by enhanced staffing etc) almost all of the children got sick.
Something to think about. Thank goodness it was just a cold.
Currently in a staff meeting where our administration does not have answers to so many questions. The stress level is high. The plan provided by the government and school board does not address issues of staff safety and requirements for contact with students outside of their classrooms. Our current supply of hand sanitizer is not alcohol based, which is the recommended standard for safety. Our PPE comes from China despite the government’s assurance to Ontarians that our province/country is self sufficient in terms of supply. These are serious matters that are not being addressed to an appropriate extent.
I need to back to work and there is no way to have our kids do online class cause the internet can’t work in our region.
Karen B—Parent, Lindsay
We are sending our son(grade 11) to in person because he is in a specialized performing arts program and we wanted him to still be able to have some semblance of his music classes. We made the decision after we saw the lengths our board of education were going to, to ensure an as safe as possible back to school. He will be attending for 75 minutes, in physical class, every other day, masks are mandatory for the entire in school time and they are limiting classes to 15 students. To us, this feels pretty safe. Also, our son is a very responsible young man and is very conscientious about how to keep himself safe regarding the virus. Another reason we made the choice to send him into classes is because he will have access to his own teachers at his own school. We did not like the idea of strictly online with a random teacher. For myself, I drive a school bus. I am 55 years old and an asthmatic and will not be returning to my run at this point, under doctor advisement. It was a difficult decision, however, there have not been enough safety measures implemented to protect Ontario school bus drivers. Even in our school board, (DDSB) there seems to be a definite lack of protective measures. The majority of school bus drivers are over the age of 60 and many have underlying health issues that leave them very susceptible to this illness and put them at risk of death. Hopefully everything goes well this year. We are very grateful that our son is not in elementary school as little has been done to protect those children and their educators and we are very grateful for the Federal government’s infusion of money to help with school startup. The ONPC seem to have abdicated all responsibility for this school year, leaving all problems to be solved by the school boards. Hopefully, between our school board and the Federal government stepping into the breach, it will be a safe school year.
Kelly P—Parent, Oshawa
Definitely I want my child go back to school, I had terrible experience with on line learning, My daughter got emotionally hurt during the time had to stay home , I do understand there is possibility to get infected by covid 19 at school but if daughter stay home not going back to schools, 100% she will be mentally sick which is worst than covid for me. Let school be opened follow the regulation.
Elham S—Parent, Thornhill
With the start of the school year coming up, I’m surprised that no plans on how online learning is supposed to work out has been sent to parents. No confirmation on start date other than a delay and a staggered start to in-person classes. I’m still unsure when online is supposed to start. Is it also delayed? Is it a staggered start as well? I’m checking my emails daily and just waiting for clarification. I don’t think this has been handled very well. Granted, there is a pandemic and the situation is challenging, however, I find it difficult to believe that the school board – with all its employees and resources – was unable to prepare appropriate communication for the school community in a timely manner.
I have enrolled my kids for in person instruction. However, without the answers on class sizes at 10-15 and public health protocols being addressed as we demanded. I will not send them. This ford government is not listening and putting parents, kids and extended family members at great risk. Teachers And boards have no answers and therefore parents can’t make informed decisions. A disaster similar to LTC is waiting to happen due to this irresponsible government.
Wendy A—Parent, Kitchener
My 17 year old daughter is physically & intellectually disabled, is mostly non verbal and has epilepsy. All of her disabilities are the result of an illness from a regular virus at the age of two. We never take for granted the repercussions of a simple illness & know that she will forever be vulnerable to any future illnesses as a result. Sending her back is terrifying. Unfortunately we have no choice because of the system that is set up to provide medically necessary therapy like physio, occupational, augmentative communication, and more is ONLY provided through the school system using human resources like educational assistants. While we could keep her home, the only access to these services we would get would be over the phone and having me be her therapist. I’m a mom….not a therapist. And since March I’ve been the only provision of these services – which are part of her education & she has a RIGHT to. She is incapable of accessing any part of her education unless it’s in person at brick & mortar schools. There is no amount of modification or accommodations that can be implemented effectively if we stay home because the physical human resources don’t exist & the system is not set up to make that happen. So we are being forced to gamble with her physical health either way. That’s not a choice it’s a nightmare. The Ontario Government is forcing us to choose the potential life threatening exposure to a virus, or continuing to watch her physical and intellectual health deteriorate without access to Education & Health supports. How quickly her Rights were stripped away was devastating to us – and frankly hasn’t been addressed or even acknowledged by any of the Provincial or local plans. It’s a disheartening time to be a parent of a vulnerable child.
Theresa S—Parent, Innisfil
Our child is going to SK this year (TDSB). As a parent, I am appalled by the system. Last year (prior to COVID), kids were constantly home because of strikes. Right now, this is happening. We are full-time, tax paying parents who cannot keep kids home because we need to provide for our family. Nor we want to, as we strongly believe that kids should go to schools, socialize with their peers, learn from their teachers, etc. When COVID hit, we NEVER refused working and rose up to the challenge of having kids at home, assuming educators role, and all that while working full-time.
We are also extremely concerned about the TDSB’s regulation requiring kids (all ages) to wear masks all day. Even though they claim that they are following Public Health guidelines, it is not the case. The province wide masking policy applies to kids 2 y.o+ and does not assume that kids will spend 6 hours in a mask. It’s one thing to go to the store, doctor’s appointment, a short ride in the bus, but it’s another to sit in the classroom full day (even with breaks). When you go to the restaurant and sit down at your table, you remove the mask. Now, imagine having a mask on for hours (as a teacher AND as a little kid).
There are a number of side factors to also consider: they restrict breathing; kids can put them on various surfaces and then back to face; kids constantly touch them/pull them down; kids are unable to see emotions of the peers/teachers, speaking and pronunciation is also affected, etc.) I understand about their efficacy, but to me personally, asking little kids to wear masks throughout the entire school day (even with breaks) poses more physical and psychological danger than not having one.
How are you planning to discipline our kids for not wearing a mask and/or inability to maintain physical distance (remember, we are talking about 4,5,6,7 year olds)?
Our school board asked staff to self- identify as immunocompromised. They promised alternative, safer work settings.
My partner and I – both teachers – qualified for an accommodation. We submitted our requests by the board’s deadline (August 17th). As of today (Sep 1 – the first day of work for teachers) we have heard nothing from HR at the TCDSB.
Stepan P—Teacher, Etobicoke
As a parent working essential service through the pandemic I fully support the back to school plan .
teaching my daughter from March -June grade 11 subjects after working a full day work was a disaster.
these teachers need to step up like the rest of us in these trying times !!!!
Teri P—Parent, Milton
My granddaughter is going into grade 9. Her mother and her father both have serious health pronlems, crohns disease and chronic respiratory disease. If she catches covid and brings it home there is an almost 100 percent chance her mom or dad could succumb to this disease. I canot take her in if there is an outbreak as I am on immunosuppressive drugs.
Lyn S—Concerned citizen, Picton
I am on the supply list and was hoping for an LTO or contract this fall. My son is high risk, so I need to work remotely. All LTOs are in person to cover for contract teachers who need accommodations. My heart is broken that I have to choose between a career I love and the safety of my family. Supplying sounds like a nightmare if I see 75 different kids every week. That’s even less safe than a regular teacher seeing 60. The Conservatives plan is not safe because even 15 students cannot maintain 2 m distance.
As a parent, I got confused of choosing between getting my kids to go to school or stay home and this due to the lack of plan from the government and from the board and the amount of questions that have no answers yet.
Also regarding the safety of the schools, I want to ask the government about how long it will take to check and/or change the school’s ventilations. No one checked anything.
The board has changed the schools start date for couple days and then changed the date for students to switch from face to face model to online model or opposite by one month. They did all of these because they want to force the parent to send their kids to schools. It is very snakey from the board/Government to do this.
As a parent I did not feel my kids will be safe going back to school with this kind of class sizes and the lack of real plan from the government.
This pandemic is far from over. And despite concerns expressed by thousands of parents, students, you have not come up with a credible response to protect students from COVID.
I am adding my voice because enough is enough. The lives of our kids and staff are worth more than some bottom line.
Keep our schools safe.
Ehab H—Parent, Richmond Hill
My 3 children attend a TDSB school in the east end. We love our neighbourhood school, but had an abysmal experience with online learning. It was as though the teachers completely gave up. My kids each only had 3 live ‘classes’, that all took place in June. We have registered for our kids to attend in person but still haven’t heard exactly WHEN they will be returning. This is unacceptable. Parents have been off work/juggling their kids for six months and we need basic info like WHEN they will be returning so that we can plan accordingly. The principal hasn’t released the classes and this is also delaying the start of extended day program because they too cannot form their cohorts. It is so frustrating that other neighbouring schools already have their timeline and had good experiences w online learning. There shouldn’t be so much of a divide.
Anonymous—Parent, East York
Hi! I have been teaching with the TDSB for 30 years and love my job. I have been a classroom teacher for the first third of my career and have been a Teacher Librarian for the past almost 20 years. As a TL I deliver prep. My schedule if it stays for next year would see me giving prep to the 6 primary classes including our 2 kindergarten classes which may both be at capacity. This means I will be in contact with approx. 130 students every 5 day cycle. Other duties will have me assisting and partnering with the rest of our large junior and intermediate classes with technology (another 5 classes of over 25 students). This means I will be in contact with most of our students (approx, 300) and they in turn will be in contact with me. Obviously this is my biggest concern to me personally and my family but also to all of our students and their families too.
The Ministry of Education has writes: Students will also be able to leave their classrooms to receive additional supports but direct and indirect contacts in schools for students should be limited to approximately 50. Our ETT union has stated that they desire contacts of 50 to be for staff and students. This makes a lot of sense in this pandemic as a precaution.
I really was expecting last July to be in charge of 15 junior students and delivering the core subjects (incl. French). This was proposed by the TDSB but the Ministry refused it as it required some flexibility with prep at the end of the day.
Thank you for your time!
OCT teacher since 1990
I’m a parent and a teacher. But like all parents, I’m that first.
But I actually was a teacher first in the timeline of my life.
Teaching for 10 years, parent for 4. Which means this year I’m sending my precious daughter to JK.
I know we’ve all lived with new worries since the school closures, but I think Ontario school staff and parents have been living one 1pm press conference at a time since March, waiting for answers. Back then we were still waiting well into the spring to find out whether we would return before the end of the year.
Then, all summer, waiting for a drip drop of information and then a flood of very disappointing news.
I’m devastated that as a teacher I am being given no choice about in school/virtual for myself or my daughter. I have to return to my position, which is in class, or take an unpaid leave. Meanwhile 20% of my school chose virtual learning for themselves.
My class of 5/6 will have 25 students and we’ve lost 2 full classes in my cycle (4-5-6). All I know about my daughters class and I only know this because I’m on staff, is that our JK/SK average is 26+.
I wish I could have chosen to stay home with my daughter who has never been to school. I wish the Ontario government would incentivize parents of children under 6 to stay home with their kids this year. Let them be introduced to school when things are safe and they can actually socialize. What’s being offered in kindergarten defeats the whole purpose most parents are sending their kids to school for : learning to live with, learn with, play with ETC, other children.
Let them stay home with their siblings or go to a small preschool where they’ll be allowed to play without masks in small classes.
Class sizes are still above 20 in primary and some above 28 in intermediate. Teachers are losing their jobs and classes and being reassigned due to low class numbers being combined. They are not hiring any new teachers as said in the news. These have not even been posted. This is not being shared with the public.
My child is going in grade 12 this year and he is taking in person class but I am not satisfied with Doug ford’s education plan always he say different things and doing different even they ask 2 question which we don’t have much choice just yes or no option even I am worried about this fall season usually everyone getting runny nose or sneezing even allergy session then they said keep your kid home so what is that then kids learn @ home for 2 weeks even in class if someone positive cases then all class or school quantitin for 2 weeks then who is responsible all home @ risk how parent go to work I don’t think so opening school is good idea for this year because we don’t know if God forbidden second wave come then what happened at least this school year online is best option for all students because kids doesn’t know anything they want to go to school but parents think different way
The government has put money ahead of our kids health and it disgusts me. I have 2 children, both with IEPs, one going into her last year of high school and one going into grade 5. Because of my daughters health issues and the fact that social distancing guidelines had no part in the plan to reopen schools I will be keeping them home. It is unbelievable to me that we closed schools back in March with 100 plus cases, here we are 5 plus months later 100 plus cases and getting ready to send them back into a building where there will be no social distancing in a room with 25 plus other kids. Our government really need to take into account that once that inevitable second wave hits because they’ve decided to go against health advice that everything will end up shut down again and they will have nobody to blame but themselves
J M—Parent, Toronto
I am starting my 22nd year. New school…and I am soooooo excited to meet my new kids!! My numbers are high. 26…11 more than what social distancing protocols call for. I have removed almost all other furniture from my room and there is NO WAY that I can appropriately distance my kids and still fit them all in the classroom. My windows open about 1-2 inches, which offers no reprieve from the heat (I have been sneaking in all summer to work and prep…and the heat is unbearable…AND…I was the only body in the room). My 4/5’s are pre-teens….they’re growing exponentially, which means they physically take up more space than younger primary school students. Yet…we are the ones with the biggest classes…I am trying my best…but I just don’t know how it’s going to work with so many kids packed into the small school rooms.
On a personal note, I have already needed to see my Dr to manage the anxiety I am experiencing as both a Teacher and a Parent. The stress of the unknowns, the “what’s good for one group but not for schools mentality” and the sincere lack of understanding of what it’s truly like to be in a classroom all day every day…I don’t sleep. I have experienced anxiety attacks. This is NOT my norm…but I am expected to keep it “all together” and make it work for the kids. And so I do…
Amy P—Educator, North York
I have a 7 year old son whose school (Downsview Public School) is listed as a high potential for COVID contraction. I believe the Grade 2 class size will be reduced to 15, however, I am not sure because it’s very difficult to get the information I am looking for high risk schools. My concerns will these schools listed in Ward 5 receive additional funding such as access to laptops and online resources in case an outbreak occurs? How will Parents be notified if there is an outbreak and what does the online program switch looks like? Will parents receive additional resources such as funding for homeschooling?
Anisha R—Parent, North York
I am a grandparent, 76 years old,and won’t be able to see my grandchildren since they will be in contact with many more people. I cannot take the chance for the sake of my own health.
Mary-Joan H—Concerned citizen, Cobden
My daughter who has an IEP and has been diagnosed with ADHD & anxiety will be starting grade 9 in a few days. We have not received anything from the school or the DDSB with regards to what supports will be in place for her first year of high school. As well, we have been following all the guidelines for isolation, masks etc. but I don’t feel the schools are ready to be reopened. I don’t believe the protocols are enough. My understandable anxiety with concerns of the upcoming school year and the unknown are obviously reverberating throughout the household and triggering her anxiety as well. She is ONLY 14. She is a child and this can be too much for her to handle. I am also an immunocompromised parent. This upcoming school year is leaving me with sleepless nights & I am becoming more of a burden on the health care system. I truly want to leave this province. I am so stressed and my physical and mental deterioration are seriously making me consider this as an inevitable conclusion for me & my family to keep us safe.
I would prefer not to send my children back to school at all, but I am not an educator and I do have concerns that they will be too far behind if they don’t go. That being said, I have low expectations for this school year.
I have one child going into grade 4 and another starting their schooling in JK. I feel as though my child in grade 4 needs the one on one experience only one of our great educators would be able to give, but does my 3.5yr old? I do realize that kindergarten is not mandatory in Ontario, and I debate myself almost daily as to whether they should go or not.
I don’t know what decision is “right” or “wrong” in this case. I’m annoyed, as a parent, that the provincial government will not budge on class sizes. I’m annoyed that they seem to be throwing it back on the teachers & their unions. Yes, the pandemic has been going on for months but to wait until July to announce the return of full time schooling and then expect school boards to whip together a solid return plan in a month is so unrealistic. These are our children here! There are office buildings that won’t have employees return until they have absolutely solidified a return plan that will be as safe as possible – and that’s dealing with working adults who are very aware of their surroundings, yet here we are sending our children back?
From the emails I have received from the board & school, I can’t say I’m excited for my children to go to school. This won’t be the school my oldest remembers it to be. I keep hearing concerns about the child’s mental health, but nobody seems to be talking about the negative feelings some children may feel once they return to school and realize it’s nothing they remember it to be. They can’t share with their friends, no hugging, stay apart, etc. The old, “don’t worry if your best friend isn’t in your class – you’ll have recess and lunch to play” can’t even be said to ease their mind when they find out they’re in a different class.
School starts in a week, and I’ve been second guessing my decision for weeks. Should I send them? Should I withdraw the youngest and re-register her for SK next year? Should I pull the oldest and opt for virtual school? Did I make the right choice?
Synchronous learning is not the answer!
I was supposed to spend 3 days in online training for PD but nearly every website that is hosting our training is overloaded and either slow, missing features, or fully shut down.
If we could work at our own pace we might be able to spread out the web traffic.
How is virtual school for students going to be any better?
I am concerned about private schools. I have several friends who work in private schools in Ontario and my sister is a teacher in a private school. The schools leadership and boards of directors feel that because they are not public schools they don’t have to comply with the guidelines and recommendations set out by the government and health authorities.
Social distancing is cut down to 1 metre. Masking for grade 4 has been tossed out. Masking for grades 5-8 is only required when outside of the classroom (in the halls, bathrooms etc.)
Sharing of food is allowed, no limits on number of students in the bathroom. No extra cleaning of bathrooms. Assemblies will continue. Limited Covid training for staff.
Staff and parents are concerned and have voiced their concerns to the school leadership but there will not be any changes.
The focus has been on public schools but I would like to see an investigation into the private schools.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Scarborough
School is not ready. At Hastings Prince Edward school board has done nothing other than the bare minimum. Nice to know they think minimum standards is all our children deserve. No social distancing, no cohorts as prep teachers are still going room to room. No reduce class sizes and the earliest start in the Provence. The board and Mr Ford should be ashamed.
Richard C—Parent, Stirling
We were not comfortable with the rush, lack of information and experience of other communities as re-opening happened so we’ve formed a small pod with 3 other families and a former ECE to deliver in-home education to supplement the online learning. We originally were ok when the class sizes were reduced and school was going to be 2-3 days to allow for shrinking the class sizes. When some parents revolted and forced back to 5 days, and class sizes were unchanged, we made the difficult decision.
Justin B—Parent, Nepean
First day back to school and critical questions continue to be met with “We don’t know”. In today’s Health and Safety training we read over and over that to prevent the spread of the virus we are to keep 2 metres from others even though this is impossible in our elementary classrooms where desks are being spaced 1 metre apart or less. We also read that the virus is not transmitted through the air, even though this is inconsistent with the latest science on COVID-19 transmission. I am deeply concerned for our students, staff, and families.
My daughters already started school on Aug 19th, on time as expected. I am completely happy with how things were organized and my daughters are excited to be back to school. I am confused how all of the other schools in all of the school boards seem to not be able to get organized and find a way to get all students back to school, either in class or online. I am grateful for what my school has done and that they were able to get things ready on time. I think all of this back and forth and delays will result in students feeling uneasy And stressed with returning. My hope is that everyone can work together to figure this out. Finding out today on the news that teachers and school boards were not working on the return to school until July is unacceptable. As a working parent I assumed teachers/principals have been working on the back to school plan. Finding out they were not is completely unacceptable. Regardless of what the return would and should look like, I think schools should have been preparing and planning as many other organizations and workplaces have during his pandemic.
Lisa C—Parent, Gloucester
People need to listen to Sick Kids and other medical professionals. Not only do the schools NEED to reopen for the health of our kids they need to be less restrictive. For example, kids should be allowed to mingle freely at outdoor recess and a mask should not be required then. The medical evidence is clear, the risk is almost non existent for these activities.
Let me add is is despicable that to comment on this site you are required to allow the liberal party to put you on their mailing lists. This is totally inappropriate and may violate provincial privacy laws.
Terry R—Parent, North York
I am an educator in the secondary panel. I can say there is NO clear guidance or access to safety equipment from the province in terms of how to move forward in a safe way to deliver education to children across the province. What the Ford government is saying on tv/media is NOT actually what is being felt on the ground. If there is not enough PPE in place, I cannot keep my students safe or my own family safe.
Hello, I’m a parent to 3 children (10, 3, 2) who lives in Ontario, Ottawa. The Ontario government is forcing the reopening of schools without proper funding. Special needs children are left behind. My middle child is 3 and I have opted him not to start school this year as he is special needs as well.
This affects me and my family. I am immune compromised. My oldest child attends a public elementary school in Ottawa. She has autism and global delay. She’s 10, but mentally she’s 4-5 years old. She has sensory issues that causes her seek out items to touch. This is a major problem in school itself , now adding onto covid19… I can’t risk sending her.
I’ve been on life support in the ICU once already, clinging to life. My doctors and I are very aware of the side effects of covid19 and the likely hood that it could very well be what kills me.
There is no mandatory masking for children in grade 4 and under. I opted for online learning to not only save ourselves, but in hopes it would minimize the number of students in her class. Where focus should be on learning, it will be replaced with constant sanitizing and worry.
Instead of smaller class sizes, they have begun lumping different grades together in a combined classroom. The Ontario government will not put a cap on students. Their plan merely suggests that 1 meter distance is enough. It does not follow the guidelines the Canadian government has put forth and many are concerned, if not all of us.
Children will become the new carriers that transmit to the parents and caregivers, the aging family members and those like me who are immune compromised. For several months we have taken Covid19 seriously. The Ontario Government hasn’t. With constant failure and disregard for the public people, I am upset. They place the blame on teachers, on unions… But all of us are worried.
Please set a mandatory Canada wide cap of at most 15 students. The Ontario government will not listen to anyone else.
I don’t know any parents that are comfortable with the “plan”. Telling us we can “choose to keep our kids home” is elitist garbage at it’s finest. If our Provincial government is going to match my lost income, pay my third-party insurance copay, and work with my employer to guarantee my job security, then I would absolutely keep my child home. So my choice is send him back, or lose my job and our home.
Our school has advised us to plan for several class changes throughout the year, including new teachers and students. WHATS THE POINT OF A COHORT IF ITS GOING TO BE EVER CHANGING?!?
Jessica S—Parent, 30 Greenwich St
The only consistency in Ontario’s safe return to school plans right now is its inconsistency and even that is teetering precariously on a foundation of contradictions; talking to parents and just about any educational stakeholder, this is what’s causing so much angst right now. How did we get here?
Our administrator (just a little higher on the food chain than me) first instructed us to ensure 1 m of space between student desks. Then, when it was evident that wasn’t possible, the messaging changed to, “Well, provide as much space between desks as you can.” In my room of 27 students, that amounts to less than 45 cms.
“Maintain your two foot bubble when interacting with students.” That was then changed to, “You don’t have to socially distance from students so long as you’re wearing both a mask and a shield and the student is masked.” If that’s true, can’t the world go back to “normal” very easily and quickly?
“Students can’t share text books.” Since I have only 12 of just about everything in my room, resources may now be shared but should be avoided whenever possible. “Advisable” and “whenever possible” comes up a lot in answers to questions.
“Work submitted to you by students on paper shouldn’t be handled for three days.” Providing written, personalized feedback on ongoing tasks should be almost immediate in order to determine when and how to move forward. The message changes to, “It’s okay to touch work that’s been disinfected (or not if you’re wearing gloves).”
The plan you have in place doesn’t have to be perfect or overly rigid! But, it’s gotta’ be better than the one that you make up on the spot devoid of details and including only that “expert” information conveniently replied upon.
I can’t find the nurse who’s apparently going to cover 16 schools but, when I do, I hope they have their HVAC certification.
Phew…what’s left to say other than, “PURPLE, MONKEY, DISHWASHER!”
I am a temporary support worker, that works full time and a parent. Due to the Ford governments plan I have to take an unpaid leave of absence to help my children with online learning. My son is autistic and cannot keep a mask on all day and I don’t want him at school in a class of 30 with no mask. Support for his needs has always been inconsistent and with the new plan I dont believe he will receive the increased support that he will need to maintain safety measures, such as physical distancing and extra hand washing. He needs school as he has social challenges.
My family is now living on one income with increased time at home so added expenses, because my children cannot attend school safely. I dont even know what we are going to do.
Tiffany B—Parent, Brampton
I want everyone to just stop fighting and find a way to work together. I’m going back to work, my wife is going back to work, and we are doing everything we can to try and make the return as safe as possible. I would rather see the fighting and propaganda stop…and see the unions and government actually work together. What gets lost in all of this is that working parents and kids suffer. I don’t expect this to be published because it doesn’t fit with what you want everyone to say, but I feel compelled to voice my concern that we are not scared of sending the kids back…what we are scared of is the anger and vitriol that keeps coming from the unions who don’t seem to want to do anything but fight.
I’m concerned with what is being done with our little children. My child is starting SK. Despite knowing about the virus children at this age cannot fully comprehend social distancing and unfair to have them wear masks all day.
Social circles and cohorts will be expanding and cannot be controlled. Even if my child does not show signs of the virus we as adults and more critically grandparents can be exposed. This is our concern and why we do not feel that schools are doing enough to keep our younger children safe.
The Ford government is doing everything possible to safely start up schools in the face of the largest pandemic Ontario has seen in our lifetimes.
Stop being political !!!
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Barrie
I want to be anonymous. I am a Parent/ School Bus Driver. Normally I like the in class learning and having a physical teacher teaching my kids cause I’m not a teacher but when it puts my kids health at risk I’m not comfortable with this situation at all. Health Professionals are stating that a second wave will occur it’s just a matter of when it will occur. Knowing this wouldn’t it be recommended to postpone opening of schools as long as necessary. Ford made a comment that he could see a COVID case happening even on the first day of school. Alot of students share same washrooms. How would that work, are they going to be cleaned after every student or are students going to have designated times which is not realistic. Maybe you could find answers. I’m having anxiety about returning to driving the school bus. City buses put in protection for drivers shouldn’t school buses do the same.
I’m a school bus driver and I have small kids. I’m very concerned about having my kids on the bus. I’m not comfortable sending my kids to school but I’m also not able to stay home and help my kids for online learning. I drive for 3 schools so that’s considered cross contaminating if someone gets sick. Children on the school buses do not sit directly in there seats. They touch other students from over and under the seats or across the aisles. How is that going to help with distancing? Is it possible to stay home with pay even if it has to be through EI or without pay but also important that my job/route would be there for me when I return? I’ve been driving for over 3 years rarely missing a day and have a very good attendance record. Thanks for your help in advance.
Anonymous—Parent, North York
I am seeing much larger classes and children who are not being protected at all. My grandkids have no choice but go back to school and they want to. I feel just sick about it. My daughter is a teacher and is so concerned of a classroom that has no room for 29 kids. Mr. Ford does an interview at a school that first of all has very few desks in a classroom, and has a bookcase out with books. Meanwhile the kids cannot even share a pencil. Many classes have tables as desks where 4-6 kids sit at. To put 29 in a class is impossible. I want smaller classes. All the money put towards nurses etc. could have been spent on teachers. How is a nurse going to help a child with covid signs other than tell them to go home. There is not even a nurse for each school. So much money has been thrown away to other areas because Mr. Ford does not like teachers.
Carole M—Parent, Oshawa
I am an elementary “prep teacher” with the TDSB. I see multiple classes a week (some of them multiple times a week). How is this safe for me or my students? I have the potential to infect 100’s of students and 100’s of students have the potential to infect me. I am not unique in this situation. All prep teachers are facing this same issue. Mr. Lecce refuses to address this problem. When presented with a possible (parent approved) solution that involved students being dismissed 48 min’s early Mr. Lecce’s response was “no” because he wants 300 minutes of learning to occur, daily. Given the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in, shortening the school day to 252 minutes to help keep us all safe should be a “no-brainer.”
All over the world countries have opened schools for in person learning to their students. Today (Sept 1) is the first day for Russia, Hungary, and many other countries while others have already been in session 2 weeks. Everyone is doing well—as long as masks are worn. Nobody is falling over from virus spreading. We have to stop whining as teachers, roll up sleeves and get in there and teach, do their job. If soldiers can go to war, teachers can also go in and teach. After all, they are paid to do so. If not, quit and let someone else teach. Last year the teachers and unions were taunting parents and students with their work to rule, not wanting to work from September to lockdown in March. Had lockdown not happened, teachers were prepared to close schools weeks at a time as the escalated step to strike action. Now, with the pandemic, all teachers all over the world have to step up. Masks, hand sanitizing, but distancing is not as big of an issue as we are making with students—as long as masks and hand sanitizing exists and is closely kept as priority. For buses, as long as students have masks on, the students and every staff member will be fine. Stop scaring the parents, who in turn are putting their anxiety onto their children, the students. It is extremely important that our students go to school, for in person learning. If other countries are doing so successfully with in person learning (England, Singapore, Taiwan, etc) then we will be fine as well!! We are not babies….or are we?
TDSB photo released that are supposed help guide teachers when spacing desks. Four desks are together in a group in the first photo (before spacing. Second photo shows desks moved about 20cm apart (after spacing). My question: if my neighbour and I can reach out and still easily touch each other after this so-called spacing is done, isn’t it still “zero” spacing?
Secondary teachers at our school board are expected to work 30 minutes longer in the school day while at the same time having 20 minutes less prep time. We are expected to teach both the students in front of us as well as 2 other cohorts on-line at the same time.
Hand sanitizer is said to be available to classrooms at some point but was not included with our initial PPE as well as a noted shortage of gloves. It feels like we are locked into a prison, strongly discouraged from leaving the building even at lunch while we need to remain isolated from colleagues. Our building is being cladded for Asbestos and vermiculite and work is on going. This does not feel like a safe plan at all. While I wish we would be able to resume as normal, times are not normal. The overwhelming feeling is that we are to operate in a “normal” way yet wearing masks and face shields. We are expected to wear our masks while even teaching online and forced to teach almost lecture style. All I can say is this is not comfortable. Kids will suffer with this model and there isn’t the strongest sense of being safe.
The Ontario government apparently approved the Secondary school proposal from the Halton District School Board even though students will only get on average 7.5 hour a week of in class time. That is FAR less than half. I’ve been told by our principle that teaching in class will be done simultaneously with the matching cohort at home. Online only students will be taught by different teachers. In this case, why can’t they do the same in the afternoons so students can be in class 50% as promised? Right now NO in person classes are scheduled for the afternoons. The mandate is for STUDENTS to be in school half the time not TEACHERS!
We had been working from home since the School board closed, there was no issues to complete our daily tasks at all remotely, however, we recently been called back to the office given the reason as that ‘To be fair to the ones that has to come back to the work place to do their work…’, amazing reasoning.
on top of that, a memo came from the senior management tried to explain that it is safe to come back was that we do not have that much visitors from outside…not sure how this stand, maybe they think the virus can identify people outsiders from insiders?
I love peel board, the decision makers are amazing…
Anonymous—Support staff, Mississauga
Elementary classes JK-8 must have a real capped class size of 20 with in-room distancing of 2 m between individual desks. Other traditional non-classroom spaces should be used as classrooms e.g. library, lunchrooms, multi-purpose rooms, instrumental music rooms. For this 1 school-year, I suggest using gyms as classrooms with no indoor P.E. (Yes, normally P.E. is important but I think in the interests of safety, spacing, contact and to reduce class sizes: this year no P.E.)
Philip R—Parent, North York
As of Sept 1, many educators still don’t know which courses or subjects they will be teaching. Curriculum planning has been impossible. Boards are scrambling to implement plans with little time and the Ministry of Education has been no help and often steps in at the last minute to demand changes to a board’s plan with no apparent reason. A colleague who went into the school building today for orientation said there was still very little signage around the building and the signage that was there was not helpful (signs indicating stairs are one-way only but directing people to go both up and down). Classes are in the process of being collapsed so that some teachers can be reassigned to online only so today our staff of about 85 was reduced by about 12 teachers. This means the timetable of most teachers at the school will be altered. During staff training today, there were glitches that prevented some people from loading the required videos or from confirming they had completed the training videos. The Ministry of Education should indicate to school boards that they can delay the start of classes until the schools are actually ready from a safety perspective.
Here’s the loads for the 4 runs I do – 19, 16, 25, 47 . 47 means all seats have 2 kids and 1 seat has 3. We have been given NOTHING to tell us how to clean, we haven’t been given the protection, we haven’t been told if or what we will be paid, we haven’t been told what or if we will be paid if required to stay home
ALSO , the self assessment tool told me and a friend that we should both stay home. My friend told this to work and was told “to go to work.”
Anonymous—School bus driver, Markham
Just like lack of psws, with better pay. We will always going to struggle to have proper care in LTCHS. You need to have this re- evaluate and stop profit for care. Enough treating seniors, health care workers, students, teachers like we are all garbage. Why don’t you Ford and Flecce go to school and LTC and see how it really is.
Jocelyne R—Concerned citizen, Hamilton
My school board, Dufferin-Peel Catholic, (which is woefully behind and unprepared for the school year), seems intent on taking out their COVID frustrations on those Teachers who have health issues that put them at high risk for COVID. They have advised that anyone who dares put their name forward for consideration for online teaching (it is September 1st and none of this has been worked out yet BTW), will have to come into the school to teach their online class regardless, as well as do yard duty etc. defeating the purpose of the request to teach online to REDUCE exposure based on their health issues. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. HOW are you going to fix this quickly? People who are at HIGH risk will be forced into schools for NO good reason. None at all. Explain to me how this is a safe return to school plan? It is NOT if individual boards can make very uneducated policies like this. Online teachers are needed in the Dufferin-Peel Board, and this shouldn’t have been hard to get coordinated to assign compromised Teachers to the online classes safely. We are a very very well paid profession, and we should be treated like the Professionals we are, with the same respect that has been shown by corporations that has led to successful work from home for 1,000’s in Ontario since March. SHAME ON YOU ALL if you do not take IMMEDIATE action.
Jen T—Educator, Norval
I am very torn about whether or not to send my children to in-person school. My children started at their am current school in Sept 2019, school closed down in Mar 2020. They had barely developed any social relationships in our new neighborhood and have felt very socially isolated and mentally drained. I did not want to send them back to school, but I am also very worried about absolute social isolation. In addition, online classes will be taught by a teacher not from their current school and the principal will be different, thus isolating them further from the school community. However due to lack of space, the school is not decreasing class sizes, and to ensure physical distancing on the playground, the kids will only have outdoor recess every other day! Instead they’ll have indoor/in-class recess (with masks on). So I really don’t know what is better/worse. I work at a university and we are not resuming in-person classes. I wish the elementary school followed the same protocols!
Anonymous—Parent, Richmond Hill
I don’t see any problems with the reopening of schools.
The government has taken the necessary measures, as dictated by the Ministry of Health, to ensure a safe return back to school.
Schools all over the world have safely reopened, and some never closed, with far fewer restrictions than we have.
Stop politicizing this.
The school (via the school board) does not have a concrete plan. Many details surrounding the operation of day-to-day activities are still not formalised. As a result, I feel I am being forced to compromise my health by reporting back to work.
I’d like to see the school boards take greater time to plan the safe opening of schools as opposed to playing it by ear.
This afternoon I attended an online staff meeting where I was told that the face shields that are a required PPE for educators have not been delivered. They will likely not be delivered by the start of school for students next Tuesday. Also, there is only enough hand sanitizer for 78 classrooms in our school, one of the largest in the Peel Board. Teachers do not have timetables yet. We will have them by Friday at the earliest. Staff entering the building will be taking their masks out of the same box each day. Very little planning has been done to instil any confidence.
Anonymous—Educator, Caledon Village
For me, it makes no sense spending money on back-to-school planning, only to possibly inconvenience families and waste money by shutting down schools again. Why not be patient, wait, save tax payers money, observe the virus numbers, potentially save lives, and use the next few months to put concrete steps into place, get students, patents, and teachers mentally prepared, with a set plan for after the Christmas holidays, instead of trying to whip together a quick fix for a lasting virus? That’s why many feel unsettled, because we only entered stage 2 and 3 as of July and August and the government is anxious to open the gates, making everyone anxious.
The current back-to-school plan is not a ‘conservative’ plan at all. It seems very ‘winged’ and rushed.
Anonymous—Support staff, Mississauga
As a school bus driver for the Halton Board of Education number one we picked up our buses we don’t have all the PPE that we we’re supposed to get example we didn’t get any shields we only got a handful of gloves not enough to do the job forvery long. We need to clean the buses 4 times a day. we have no idea when school is supposed to start the Catholic board the public board the provincial board everybody is starting on different days different times nobody’s on the same page nobody knows anything apparently we’re not supposed to know until like the 4th or the 5th of September that’s cutting it a little close our buses are almost full the numbers are just way too high I don’t see where the social distancing is happening in the school buses. I’ve been driving for 17 years. Love my job love the kids. I’m always happy to go back to work. I’m not this year. It’s a shame. Plus to top it off the government gave us bus drivers a bonus of 3000.00 a year to be spread out over the school year. We only got one payment last school year and it came 6 to 7 mos late. Now they are cutting us now to 2000.00. This is why I feel we mean nothing to anyone.
My thoughts my feelings
Marinda B—School bus driver, Milton
My children will be going back to Northlea EMS (TDSB) for the French immersion program. There is a bus student that comes to Northlea from an area that Toronto public health has decided to be a “hot spot”. That neighbourhood will be getting funding (from what I understand) to have smaller class sizes to proper socially distance. Northlea (as of now) is considered a low risk neighbourhood, and will not be receiving the funding to have smaller class sizes to properly socially distance. I’m concerned that our neighbourhood that is low risk will become high risk with the lack of ability to socially distance properly.
Neil M—Parent, East York
Schools are told to “fold” classes (20, at my school of 600), and the teachers who were teaching those classes are sometimes out of a job. The government is using this opportunity to fill each classroom to absolute capacity, so that they can reduce the number of teachers to save money.
Full-time teachers are sometimes being offered online or supply work, but not always. Teachers who are part-time are simply losing the jobs they interviewed for back in June. Rather than hiring more teachers during this crisis, they are reducing numbers by making classes larger, in person and online.
I received my route copy today for my school bus route. One would have expected that in order to limit exposure between students that the morning and afternoon route would have had basically the same students in the morning and afternoon. Unfortunately, it looks like that wasn’t even considered. I’m a midsize bus; normally carrying from 17 to 26 students in the past (maximum capacity pre-covid-19 was 28; adult capacity is 20). Only 6 students are common for both the morning and afternoon (there are 15 students in the morning and 18 in the afternoon). This means that as a senior citizen, I am being exposed in close quarters to 30 students rather 17 or 18. This holds true for the students as well. They are now in close proximity to 29 other students in a school bus on top of 30 other students in their class. This lack of planning is incomprehensible. As a result of not limiting class sizes to between 15 and 20, and not minimizing contact with other students on buses, this is putting students, teachers, bus drivers, support staff and every single person of their social bubble at risk of contracting Covid-19. If one student gets Covid-19 there will automatically be a minimum of 500 people to contact and warn, because of all the mixing of groups.
I will take every possible action to minimize the possibility of infection for my students (we will all wear masks, I’ll ensure the best ventilation possible, and will disinfect all common touch areas between routes), but this government from the outset has sabotaged the easiest aspect of reducing the risk: Keeping physical distance, and keeping contact bubbles as small as possible.
Kenneth B—School bus driver, Toronto
I’m slated to have 30+ students in my 5/6 class, half of which start in 2 weeks. My school still doesn’t know how many kids will actually attend. It’s not possible for me to socially distance 20 kids, let alone more than 30 in my normal-sized classroom. I’m terrified about getting covid. I’m high risk and can’t bear the thought of attempting to teach remotely. I didn’t get into teaching to be a face on a screen. Teachers develop meaningful relationships with our kids. That’s what makes their successes so meaningful and their “defeats” even more heartbreaking, prompting us to do anything in our power to raise them up. We could’ve shortened the day by a mere 47 minutes and had it be safer. I’m tired of being compared to the frontline workers who were given the ability to socially distance, who had capacities in their work places lowered… at least with my kids, I can reason with them. They’ll stay away from me. What about a 3 year old starting jk who can’t tie his shoes or can’t do up her pants after the bathroom? How can we keep 30+ 3, 4 and 5 year olds apart? We will see a spike 2 weeks after we’re fully open and families and teachers will get sick and some will die. I’m not afraid of living through this terrible virus should I contract it, I’m not even afraid of saying from it as we all have to go sometime. What I’m terrified of are the lifelong medical consequences that do many people are reporting after surviving the virus: organ failures, losses of digits and extremities, even neurological disorders! These diminished lives will forever be on the head of Doug Ford and Steven Lecce. Shame on BOTH of them. They say they’ll do whatever is possible to keep everyone safe but they wouldn’t shorten the day or pay to lower all class sizes in Ontario. Ford even had the audacity to say if it was up to him, there’d be 5 kids per class… well, it IS up to him. It’s SOLELY up to him. He failed the people of Ontario with this dangerous plan that’s incomplete.
Melissa R—Educator, North York
So what people are not talking about is other programs that run in the schools. The YMCA for example that use the rooms in the building both before and after school. These rooms are not properly sanitized before the school day starts as there is no time to do so. That cohort of students, if you child is unfortunate enough to be in these rooms, for the day is sharing the room with people outside of their cohort. How these programs weren’t removed and located elsewhere is ludacris. These are different times and different measures to ensure safety need to be implemented.
We are in Waterloo Region and our child is going into Grade 1.
He had attended a school in the Waterloo Catholic District School Board for both years of Kindergarten, and had been accepted into WCDSB’s French Immersion program (based on a lottery) earlier this year, which is located in a different school across town.
In early August, we were asked to specify whether he would be attending in-school or through distance learning, with a deadline of August 10 for responses. After weighing the options, we advised the board he would be starting the year through distance learning.
On August 30, we received a call from the Vice Principal of the school he was to be attending in September to inform us that no French instruction would be provided through distance learning, and that if he were to switch to the in-person option in October (the first of the opportunities to switch WCDSB has identified), his spot in French Immersion would be saved, but that if he were to continue in distance learning past October he would no longer have a spot in French Immersion and would be transferred back to his previous English-only school.
Had we been advised in early August that selecting distance learning might have an impact on French Immersion eligibility, we would have factored that into our (rather agonizing) decision making. It was not, and was only communicated during a last-minute weekend call from the school administration. It felt to us like we were being penalized for not returning to school. (I do not think this was the case, and the WCDSB personnel I spoke with made every effort to answer my questions and provide assistance. They are doing the best they can with this herculean task, and are not being helped by the provincial government). Had back to school planning, funding, etc. been addressed by government earlier, boards could have collaborated, shared best practices and – perhaps – WCDSB could have found a way to maintain French instruction through distance learning, or at least developed strategies for ensuring that students who participate in distance learning would not lose the ability to participate in French Immersion or other programs that may be affected.
We are fortunate enough to have a happy ending to our story. On August 30, just after recieving the call from the WCDSB, we did some rather frantic research and found that the public Waterloo Region District School Board is offering French instruction for distance learning, and has specifically stated that distance learning will not impact a student’s eligibility for French Immersion programs. We quickly got in contact with the administration at our local WRDSB school (we had been in touch with them earlier this year after our child was accepted into the WRDSB FI program, but had turned the spot down to keep him in the Catholic board) and they worked quickly and were able to secure our child a spot in the WRDSB French Immersion program at the neighborhood WRDSB school, and are relieved to know he can participate in distance learning while still remaining in the French Immersion program.
Ultimately this story is not as significant – or dangerous – as the others I’m sure you will receive, but it does highlight another effect of the Ministry of Education’s disastrous COVID response. We are fortunate that nobody in our home is immune-deficient, or over the age of 65, or in any other high-risk categories. But if they were, we would be stuck between our child’s education, and our health (or that of our extended family) – potentially discriminatory on the basis of family status (e.g. if we had needed to sacrifice this portion of our child’s education due to the need to care for an ill or elderly family member).
Ross B—Parent, Kitchener
I am a high school teacher and today was the first day back, as a professional development day. The day was meant to clarify the re-entry plan, however there are many holes in the plan. Numerous questions were asked and unfortunately Administrators didn’t have answers. There were no wipes or paper towel and sanitation spray to clean communal computers in workrooms, we currently don’t have an up to date class schedule, some students don’t have a complete schedule either!!! Some students don’t have a complete schedule because they did online summer school, and so that course was removed from the current schedule but there is no room for them in classes, because we don’t know which students will be staying home or which students will be attending school.
Questions were asked regarding progressive discipline; since the office is their own cohort, where do we send kids who need to be spoken to by the principal ? What if a student refuses to wear a mask? What does assessment look like? What happens if an online student isn’t attending class? How will we teach asynchronously from our classrooms if our classroom computer doesn’t have a microphone or a video camera? Why isn’t the teacher notified of a positive case in the class cohort? If a student presents symptoms, why isn’t it required that they get tested in order to return to school? What about transportation since the school day is cut short? What if a student doesn’t have transportation at that time; since there is a strict no standing in the hallway policy, where will they go?
These questions and many more were not answered.
Simply put… I don’t think the current plan is ready for school re-entry.
Anonymous—Educator, 160 Port Royal Ave
I have 2 students to a desk in my gr 1 class. All the other methods I’m putting in place are pointless when I have 2 students within 1 meter of each other. It’s literally just an illusion. Even though I’m an educator I’m not sending my own children to their school because I know that what I “hear” from the board and the ministry are very different from the reality students will face. These are the too low and too small desk dividers purchased by the ministry of education and provided to the school board that I teach in. Plus. They spin. Yep. A giant fidget spinner. Principal said we’d use them for maker space materials instead.
I’m a school bus driver, and I AM a Front-Line worker driving a 72 passenger school bus full of kids. We need our PPE! As promised.
We do not have the proper PPE that Mr. Lecce said as per his comments to Global News Aug 25, 2020 ‘Education Minister Stephen Lecce said his team has been in constant contact with the Ontario School Bus Association and pointed out that the ministry has invested $40 million with school boards and bus operators to ensure that vehicles are cleaned and drivers have PPE.’
Well, we don’t and I do not feel safe taking my students to school and home. These buses are 1/2 the size of a classroom [with the plan of only 15 students per class], and you yet are putting a full load of 48 – 72 on most buses. Are you folks nuts? There is no Social Distancing on a school bus, unless you put students on alternate seats sitting against the window [12 students max per bus – unless they are from the same family, so you have a few more]. That makes it 6 feet, for social distancing. You can’t put kids on a bench on either side of bus cause it is not 6 feet! Little students are short, you can’t see them in your mirror, the seats are tall, you have not a clue if they have their face masks off on the bus and are eating or drinking.
SickKids President and CEO Dr. Ronald Cohn told the Star he will not back a plan that does not ensure proper physical distancing between students – this was posted August 7th. Yet two are for sending the students back to school like this, ‘we’re following the guidelines from Sick Kids!’ that’s what you said Mr. Ford. You are not, you are doing your own thing.
Another quote from August 7, 2020 ‘Premier Doug Ford has called the provincial school plan for Ontario’s two million students the “best plan, bar none, across the country,” saying it was developed in consultation with “the best medical minds” in Canada. The SickKids-led guidance document states that “smaller class sizes should be a priority strategy as it will aid in physical distancing and reduce potential spread.”’
Why is it such a rush to get these students back to school, both Ford and Lecce said all the way back in April – June ‘kids are important, their health and safety are our MAIN concern’. Doesn’t seem to be now?
I love my school bus run, I love my kids, I love to drive a school bus, gets me up in the morning instead of sleeping in, which I have don’t since we all stopped on March 13th. But let’s take it easy having the students back in class with all the proper protocols in place.
I have been shaking my head through this whole time typing this, I just can’t figure why the rush to send kids back without ALL the proper protocols in order.
Which they are NOT and we are 7 days from when most school open!
Please Stay Safe and Healthy everyone.
Anonymous—School bus driver, Brampton
I’m a little bit confuse why Ford government don’t want to decrease class size …is it prevention is better than cure right…We’ve been asked to social distance in almost indoor spaces why would they do that at school? What’s stopping them…I’m worried about my kids specially my 10 years old has seasonal allergy..I’m wondering it might be a big problem for her because She keeps on sneezing specially in morning time please help us enlightened Us
no extra staff being hired to help with sanitizing the school I work in. The extra work load I will have implementing the sanitizing protocol on top of my regular work load gives me at most 3 min. a class room to wipe down 30 desks and 30 chairs, the teachers desk, computers in the room and any high touch points. How well sanitized do you think the room will be. The class rooms are bursting at the seams with 28 to 34 students per class room. Not even the minimum distance of 2 feet between desks is possible. I am sure the school I work at isn’t the only one in this situation. It is all well and good to have the safety protocols on paper or announced at a news conference , but unless the school boards are made to follow them what good is it?
I am a supply (casual) educational assistant with the Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board. Whilst it has been advertised that there is a three day mandatory COVID-19 training for all staff, I would like to share that in my experience this is not taking place. At the Hastings & Prince Edward District School Board, the only COVID-19 training that appears to have been offered is a short generic slideshow. This slideshow is extremely limited and offers little to no actual training for staff on how to best handle returning to school while in the midst of a global pandemic.
Anonymous—Support staff, Belleville
Staff in Halton District School Board do not have to wear masks in schools when children are not present. I was shocked to enter my work site today to find the majority of staff not wearing ppe. We were told as long as we space out we don’t need masks. Masks are mandatory in Halton Region, unless you work in a school. ‘Masks or face coverings are mandatory in certain indoor public places in #HaltonON, unless exempt. Please wear a non-medical mask or face covering that cover your nose, mouth and chin.’ ( Halton Region website). Please see attachment of slide distributed to HDSB staff telling us we don’t need to wear masks in school.
Michelle D—Educator, Mississauga
My very small school in the GYA has lost 5 educators. But they didn’t lose their jobs so we are all good, right?? Nope. It means that classes that could have been kept small have been merged and brought up to their ore Covid maximums. I’d like parents to know this. The Ontario Gov is sacrificing students safety which in turn sacrifices educator safety which in turn sacrifices family safety. This is not just a problem for people with or involved with children, it will affect businesses and their bottom line when they have to close again.
Anonymous—Educator, Caledon East
My daughter is a teacher with 20 years experience with the OCDSB. She returned to school today for health and safety training and to find out that, for part of her day, she will be teaching a kindergarten class – 23 children, none of whom will be wearing masks. She has been very careful these past few months to protect herself and her daughter by keeping her bubble very small. Now she will be exposed, at close quarters, to all these children and all the people in their bubbles. As well, she will be required to clean and sanitize the class bathroom after these little guys use it, and to sanitize any toys or other items that are touched in the classroom.
I AM EXTREMELY CONCERNED FOR THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF MY DAUGHTER, AND THE SAFETY OF MY GRANDDAUGHTER!
Given the current situation with covid-19, there is no way that this can be considered a safe work environment. I feel that, actually, it could be considered a life-threatening environment for my daughter.
This needs to be fixed now!
Cynthia E—Concerned citizen, Orléans
Staff in Halton District School Board do not have to wear masks in schools when children are not present. I was shocked to enter my work site today to find the majority of staff not wearing ppe. We were told as long as we space out we don’t need masks. Masks are mandatory in Halton Region, unless you work in a school. Masks or face coverings are mandatory in certain indoor public places in #HaltonON, unless exempt. Please wear a non-medical mask or face covering that cover your nose
Michelle D—Educator, Aurora
I teach in one of the largest schools in the TDSB.. over 1000 students.
. -We were just told that we are not getting extra caretakers (we have 3!!)
– we have met many times with our principals and colleagues (virtually) and have gone over the Operation Guidelines document for reopening… the document contradicts wants in the media and vice-versa.. For example.. today, TDSB released photos and tips on how to set up the classroom. The photos show chairs facing each other.. Well, the Operational Guidelines document specifically states, all students must be seated facing one direction.. not facing each other
-We just got notified that the empty portables we have, will not be reopened and offered to hold classes in order to reduce crowding in the building.. … why not????
-we were notified that extra teachers will not be hired so.. many of our classes remain at 35+ students!
-The school that Ford, Lecce, and Williams toured today is a small community school that focuses mainly on outdoor learning.. Why don’t they tour a school like mine??? -over 100 yrs old, ventilation almost non- existent, no AC, constantly under repair, windows barely open, small rooms offered as classes, over capacity,
I see videos from my school board showing what classrooms will look like, with non-specific promises about ventilation and distancing which from everything I have seen, read and heard, is misleading.
After months of schools being shut down, during which we could have made changes and planned, we are scrambling at the last minute.
There is no rational, cohesive plan. We could have paid more attention to creative uses of space around the world that have been effective. We didn’t.
My children have had major challenges with online learning. Teachers have been thrown into this and I cannot imagine how they are coping. Some became cruel in their anxiety, others understanding. Some, reasonably, gave up. It impacts the students and their families.
There seems to be an inability to effectively prioritize what to do. From the structure of classrooms, to online learning, to the mental health of staff and students.
Those directly affected by this: staff, students, and parents, do not deserve to be judged. They are working with the train wreck this government has set in motion.
I am livid that I am about to watch the most vulnerable and the most marginalized get hammered once again during this pandemic because of an inept, uncaring, stagnant government and a minister of education who doesn’t even know what an IEP is. It seems impossible to believe that this government has prepared at all for anything that doesn’t affect them personally and directly.
My son will not be going to school in class. Let me be clear. The reason he will not be going is not because of a virus. It is because of the poor planning of this government. We could have done so much better.
Taslim J—Parent, Richmond Hill
I have a 9 year old granddaughter with type 1 Diabetes and Celiac decease since she was 5. Yesterday we meet with the school administrators as to the protocol for COVID at the school. We were taken to her classroom where there were sets of desks pushed together in groups of 3 and 4. Absolutely no physical distancing. The class will consist of 26 students. I made a suggestion that the desks be separated into a single row one behind another which would give a better sense of distancing. The teacher said that would work if he made the front of the classroom face the long way. The reason it was not was because the white board as they call it would be awkward for students to see. They the students would have to turn their bodies to the side to see it. I implied moving this white board to the front but the teacher responded it would have take some time to do this. Why didn’t they do this in the last 4 months? They knew schools might open and the funding was there. I don’t think a lot of thought went into reopening this school until last minute. The kids will have their backpacks with their coats at their seats. There’s no space for that. My granddaughter requires her insulin and extra food items to be placed in a refrigerator. But we were told no one is using the refrigerator in the staff room. Not even the staff. We could purchase one and leave it in the classroom. The kids will be washing their hands with soap and water at a dink in the classroom. The amount of time it will take to line up 26 kids and social distance will take up a good chunk of school time as this will be fine several times during the day. When a teacher teaches facial expression is a good teaching tool along with seeing a child’s response and expression to the learning. Wearing a mask inhibits this. Then there’s the bus issue. The kids will have masks on and sit in groups of 2-3. Again no social distancing. The bus windows will be down to the first notch and the roof vent will be open. So come winter and the colder weather approaches then what happens? My daughter is sever asthmatic and I’m a senior. We have spent the past 5 months isolated and taken every precaution. If any of these children contact COVID and are hospitalized. They are there alone with strangers. This is an unsafe environment.
Dale K—Parent, Belleville
Teachers in the Hamilton Catholic school Board were told by some Principals to do their own classroom disinfecting of desks and touch points after each 90 minute block. Seriously….wasn’t that what Doug Ford said he provided funding for extra caretakers for. Shameful. Was there really money allocated for extra cleaning???
I am an educator in Niagara Catholic. Our school board has not hired ANY new custodians, and has in fact CUT our morning custodian who worked from 5- 9 am. His position has been eliminated. This means there is 1 custodian for the whole school – there is absolutely no way they will be able to wipe the surfaces as well as complete all of the regular duties required. Tell me why during a PANDEMIC we are cutting custodial hours? In addition, all of our classes in the school in the junior/intermediate grades are above 25 students…. Where are the additional funds being spent? We have nothing new in the school expect signage ( stickers on the floor and walls) .. where are the BILLIONS of DOLLARS?
Anonymous—Educator, St. Catharines
The Hamilton Catholic school board will have elementary students on school buses in normal capacity numbers. This is deplorable, and sad. There will be zero supervision of little kids keeping masks on while on the bus. Imagine 7 year olds to 12 year olds speaking loudly and basically spitting on each other with no masks on. That 70 year old bus driver will be focused on the road and not be able to monitor this activity. There will be the spread of this virus to schools and brought home, as these young students are now termed “super spreaders” and carry a high concentration of the virus without showing symptoms. Very poor leadership by the government in not funding more school buses!
PD session today had 86 staff members together in cafeteria. We asked why are school boards are exempt from the large gathering rule? We have no idea what Wednesday and Thursday’s PD sessions will be since the school board and our school admin team is scrambling to make teaching and students schedules since all previous timetables were scrapped since they have no idea how many courses will run due to low in-class enrolment. Teachers have no idea what they will be teaching or where they will be teaching next Tuesday. Horrible planning and complete waste of tax payers fillers.
Chris P—Educator, East York
I implicitly trust our child’s teachers and school staff to do their utmost to make going back to school as safe as they can. I don’t trust my child’s classmates or their families to have practiced proper social distancing and/or wearing masks. I certainly do NOT trust this government to have given the schools, or to give them in the immediate future, the tools they need to open schools safely and to do the jobs properly. I fear for the teachers and staff, having to go back to work in what will essentially be petri dishes.
Im a school bus driver in Thunder Bay. There is no consideration given to the number of kids allowed on a bus at a time. A bus allows up to 72 kids depending on the grades. If there are 72 kids on a run then 72 will be on the bus. Absolutely no social distancing.
Bryan S—School bus driver, Thunder Bay
I am a mother of a grade 3 and a grade 2 student. I am worried for the health of my family as the return to school approaches. My mother had been in our bubble since the beginning because otherwise she would have been very isolated. With the return to school we will not be able to socialize with her in person in order to protect her from potentially being infected by Covid 19.
I am seeing teachers and school administration working hard to make things as safe as possible, while remaining positive to quell the fears and anxiety of their students. They are filling in the gaps of the plan provided by the provincial government. I am seeing desperate parents, grandparents, teachers, EAs and ECEs pleading with the government to support and fund smaller class sizes.
I am seeing the provincial government gas light these concerns, condescend and shame educational professionals for advocating for a safe September. I am seeing government representatives spread misinformation and use misdirection. I am witnessing the government ignore the advice of thousands of health care professionals and seeing that what is required by everyone else is not required by schools.
Premier Ford and Minister Lecce repeat the same words over and over again but they have no meaning!
2 m social distancing – the classrooms are not large enough to have 2 m between students with the current class size caps. If it is impossible to have social distancing then it is futile and misleading to tout it as part of your great plan.
ventilation – systems are ancient and windows don’t open and there is not time to make the upgrades. If money can’t make this happen then it is misleading to keep repeating all the funding alloted for it.
cohort- there is no cohort, A student takes a bus with kids from 2 different schools and all different ages and then goes to her classroom which is supposed to be her cohort, but her bus likely has more children than her classroom.
Another student goes to before school care and is mixed in with kids from various classes and then enters his classroom
A teacher rotates between 6 different classes in a day or week and introduces the possibility of infection to all of those students she meets.
Classroom teacher’s child is ill and they must stay home as well in case it is Covid. A supply teaches the class but she was in a different class yesterday and 2 different ones last week.
There is NO COHORT so it is also an ineffective part of your plan.
masking – masks can make a difference, but repeatedly our government reps in press conferences and photo ops do not use the masks properly or employ improper techniques to put them on, take them off or store them. This demeans the importance and seriousness of the pandemic and the value of masks to prevent the spread. Government reps and people in photo ops should be under greater scrutiny to be upstanding examples.
The information is confusing enough without our representatives using unclear terms and spreading misinformation.
The back to school plan is a mess! It is unclear, most of it is impossible to implement or is based on oversimplification and blatantly ignoring key information.
I know there are good sound plans and recommendations from the public service employees that have been ignored and buried for political gain. Go dig them up, apologize for ignoring them, apologize to the people of Ontario you are supposed to be representing and make this right. Make September safe! Find more space for classes, reduce the numbers of kids in classes. Find innovative solutions to buses and before and after school care. Provide paid sick leave to all, so workers can isolate when they or a family member are sick.
Make this right and start now!
I found out that the kw public school board high school is telling teachers they can’t keep the windows open to help with air circulation.
My wife, my sons mother is heading back to school, as a prep coverage teacher she will interact with over 225 children a day.
So if you think your kids are going to be safe in cohorts, seeing only their classmates and one teacher, they wont. With teachers floating the usefulness of cohorting is zilch.
Jefferon A—Parent, Owen Sound
It is impossible for there to be social distancing according to guidelines in my classroom. I don’t have enough furniture to make it work. We are a week away from school and still don’t have the promised floor stickers or hand sanitizer stations. My classroom doesn’t even have a paper towel dispenser. Children are going to be going outside for recess with 15+ classes of kids (and this is considered distant). Can be in a gym together with no masks on. Our prep teacher will be seeing almost 100 children a day who don’t have to wear masks. It’s incredibly infuriating that the current government is saying all these socially distant things will happen when in reality, it’s just a complete mess.
Anonymous—Educator, 88 Park Lawn Rd #1615
I am a parent and an elementary teacher that works in a K -8 school. Today we lost 4.45 teachers. Our Elk classroom currently has 36 students and our 7/8 classroom has 32 students because of classrooms collapsing.
My daughter is in grade 10 and now has one class all day long, 5 days a week because the ministry rejected the quadmester model. She is dreading school.
As a teacher and parent, I’m incredibly frustrated with Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce. They have had 5 months to figure a safe back-to-school plan. I live in the Near North with very few active cases but I am very concerned about my colleagues and all students in Ontario’s hotspots.
Anonymous—Educator, Burk’s Falls
I was so naively optimistic when I thought online learners could keep school classroom numbers lower. But no, along with this crazy, stressful shuffle for everyone In a school, we were surplus teachers, lost 7 homeroom classes and now literally have empty classrooms while the average class has 25 students. I have 26 in a grade 4/5 class. Desks are no where near spaced appropriately distanced from each other. As a class, we have a spot on the yard to play and learn, at a designated time, there’s no inside gym time, no library, no moving about the school freely, students cannot work in groups or in the hall. It is a jail cell for kids and teachers. We have a bathroom schedule too, 2 set times when my class can use the bathroom. Hope no one has tummy issues this year! Beyond ridiculous. This whole thing. Classes need to be 15, all classrooms should be used. Online learning should be an entirely differently funding endeavour by Ford and we should get our teachers back. One school in Barrhaven, ON, with OCDSB was surplus 11.5 teachers. How is this OK?
I don’t understand why the teachers are not required to show up to work with a negative Covid test before they can enter the building? I also believe the teachers should have to take each pupils temperature each morning and record it.
I also hope that the teachers took the time over the summer to learn how to educate the students online. From what I have heard the online teaching was “not the best” (I am being kind) from March to end of school year.
Randy H—Concerned citizen, Bradford
I don’t understand why the teachers are not required to show up to work with a negative Covid test before they can enter the building? I also believe the teachers should have to take each pupils temperature each morning and record it.
I also hope that the teachers took the time over the summer to learn how to educate the students online. From what I have heard the online teaching was “not the best” (I am being kind) from March to end of school year.
Randy H—Concerned citizen, Bradford
All summer we heard that teachers would receive “medical grade masks” and face shields. Lecce said he’d personally seen to it that every school had a good stockpile of masks. My sister teaches for Toronto Catholic – she was in the gymnasium all day for a staff meeting and COVID training, but no masks or other PPE were distributed. Staff were told to wear their own masks from home – mostly cheap, disposable masks, and that’s what they wore all day. And no explanation as to why they weren’t getting the PPE we’ve led to understand we’ll be supplied with.
John M—Educator, North York
I have a documented pre EXISTING condition and now added to my regular duties I have to breath in covid 19 aerosols as I am cleaning up vomit urine, blood and feces, which I do daily.
Darrin M—Custodian, Georgetown
I am shocked that the government’s plan is basically back to school as usual with masks. My daughter is in kindergarten and she’s pretty good with hand hygiene but there are times when she’s not. It is unrealistic to expect 4 and 5 year olds to wear masks all day, social distance and be efficient at maintaining proper hygiene to curb the spread of germs. It is also unrealistic to expect our educators to be 100% efficient at enforcing these safety measures as well . Our teachers and ECEs are already spread very thin with the current class sizes. Any parent of kindies know at that age they get sick very often. Would we be required to have our kids tested, quarantined or self isolate for every fever, cough, cold or flu like symptoms they come home with? What ever happened to 15 kids per class, half days or a 2 week schedule? Why is it acceptable to send our littlest to classes of 30 when we cannot even gather more than 10? These and so many other questions remain unanswered. We have decided to homeschool for the foreseeable future in anticipation of the inevitable second wave. I feel incredibly lucky to have the option to keep my child at home because I know there are many parents who do not have that option. I urge those of us who can keep our kids at home to please do so. As parents, we are all in this together and I feel that it’s our social responsibility to help those who do not have a choice but to send their kids back to an unsafe school environment. The more kids that are home, the smaller the class sizes will potentially be and hopefully our educators can keep those at school safe. I am also curious to know if our premier and ministers are sending their kids back to school.
Nabeela H—Parent, Cambridge
Everybody is talking about schools in the English School boards starting soon and all the trouble they’re going through. It’s even worst for the French boards. Students are coming to school 36 hours from now and all the teachers at my school don’t have their schedule or a class list. Our classes are between 27-30 and we’ve been told they might get bigger. There is barely 1 metre between the desks so if any student is walking in the class, he his well within 1 metre of other students. In all the years since I’ve started , this is the highest number of students we have had per class, and it’s a year where SickKids Hospital say class sizes should be closer to 15…..go figure!
I have sent daily emails to Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, and my MPP. They do not listen, nor do they hear how dangerous their back to school plan is. Instead, they defend their plan as being the best in Canada…even if it is the best, it is not good enough, defying all their own recommendations that they have been hammering home since the outbreak began. Having previously worked in the system I know it will be impossible to properly social distance with the number of students they are allowing in classes. Today I figured out that their plan is not designed for prevention, but instead, containment. I have grandchildren in the system and several family members working in the system, one whose husband has diabetes. Ford and Lecce dangled the fifteen student classroom as a carrot before the horse and then quickly backtracked indicating that students and their families, and educators and their families are, once again, anything but a priority to the PC government. Students, educators, and their families are nothing more than sacrificial lambs to the slaughter with these two inexperienced politicians. We are left with little more than hope and a prayer! Their plan is irresponsible and dangerous. I fully expect an explosion of cases by October, but hope and pray I am wrong! Grandparents can no longer be a support system for their families once students are back in school due to the increased risk and will once, again, be cut off from their families, increasing our isolation and mental health risks.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Milton
Schools are not ready. My school does not have adequate ventilation, on going issue for over a year. As of today, floor markings and signage are still not up. Administration does not have answers to safety questions. We were provided only one week of masks. Stand alone or wall mounted hand sanitizer stations are not happening. Staff are to squeeze some into each students hands.
Recess is not happening, instead teachers are encouraged to take students outside 2 times a day, and they can take masks off if they are just standing outside.
This plan is not okay. Leaving staff without answers is not okay. Ford and Lecce claim staff have been trained. This is not at all true. We watched videos, alone, with no answers to questions. This was our covid management training.
Anonymous—Support staff, Cambridge
I work at a Private Christian School north west of Toronto. People have the misconception that Private/Christian Schools don’t have to adhere to the Ministry of Education Back to School Plan. However, the Back to School Plan clearly states in the document, under the Private Schools heading that “private schools should adhere to the document.” As a result of this misconception. our principal has been reluctant to follow the guidelines. We have staff who are not wanting to follow the guidelines, and parents who want us to relax some of our protocols. This is very concerning for me as a teacher. I teach Grade 1 and 2, so my students don’t have to wear masks. Because of space limitations, I can only place the desks 1 meter apart, and will be wearing a mask because I can’t be 2 meters apart from my students. I have 16 students in my class so the room is full of desks. The government has been quick to give billions of dollars to the school boards, but nothing to the private schools. This is not a public school pandemic it is a world pandemic. We are educating Ontario students and should be receiving the same funding as the public schools. We have had to buy extra cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and touchless dispensers as well as retrofit our bathrooms with touchless taps and hand dryers. We don’t have extra money lying around, so we have had to dip into our savings which has put the school in a financial shortfall. All Ontario schools should be treated the same.
My Board has stated that my students are to face forward. But, these are my “desks”. They cannot face forward! I would also like to show you a picture of a medical facility I visited yesterday! Why the discrepancy?
Can someone suggest how I can position the students?
I am a parent and an educator. I am worried for my child, my family, for my students & their families and for my co-workers & myself.
I have not had access to my school yet because of ongoing construction.
Tomorrow (Sept 2) will be my first day in the school. In June, I was assigned a kindergarten class of 15 (no ECE), but I don’t know if this is still the case. If in-school enrolment goes down, the class of 15 might be eliminated and staffing adjusted.
I was instructed to do online training from home today (COVID training slideshows), but the TDSB Brightspace platform was experiencing technical difficulties all morning until early afternoon. (Not surprising, as this often happens when so many staff log on at the same time…. report writing, mandatory compliance training…)
I am worried about all the uncertainty and all the fine details that used to come so automatically to me, as I welcomed brand new kindergarten children to their first school experience. It will all be different. I feel fortunate to have wonderful colleagues and we’ll do our best to work through this difficult time.
When I filled out the survey, I had hoped that things would get better. Each day that passes, I am moving further away. If Ford and Lecce keep going, there will be no kids at school to worry about. I get that this is new and unprecedented but COME ON, there is so many other ways to do this. Ford and Lecce are not even listening to parents or teachers. I can assure you, no teacher is just thinking about themselves. It’s all about the kids first, adults second. Parents will do WHATEVER it takes to kids everyone safe. I mean, some one has to since those we are relying on are failing to raise our confidence.
Sarah V—Parent, Brampton
I am a kindergarten teacher and I have 24 students arriving next week. There is barely one metre of distance between desks and my classroom is full. I was measuring and moving furniture all afternoon to make sure there was room for all of my students, being forced to get rid of more items that make my classroom enjoyable and exiting for children. All the shared learning resources are gone. Best advice from my board – spend time outside. Here is a picture of my kindergarten classroom – in 30 years of teaching I have never had to set up my classroom like this. I have no words…
K R—Educator, Mississauga
I work in a large school board in Northern Ontario, in a school with roughly 300 students. The latter are divided into 25-29 students per class, which leaves about 40 cm between desks (1 metre seat to seat). Focus is on PPE, disinfecting desks, and hand washing; with a complete disregard for social distancing and proper ventilation (as you well know, these take priority on the other tiers in the hierarchy of hazard controls, including PPE).
Covid is a biological hazard in our work place and should be treated as such. Students will be eating within a metre of each other without masks during snack time and lunch. This is unacceptable. There are only two bathroom stalls per bathroom, per sex that will be shared between four classes (over 100 students, roughly 50 for girls and 50 for boys). Teachers’ Aids are being shared between classrooms. Ventilation is outdated and does not even come close to offering adequate air circulation; neither do the little windows that can’t produce a draft on the windiest of days. Furthermore, gym, art, and technology teachers are rotating class to class. The board has also condensed classes by closing two classrooms which will be used as storage rooms and makeshift teacher’s lounges to maximize space in the classrooms and to limit the number of staff in the actual teacher’s lounge. It supposedly maximizes space within the class by eliminating non-essential furniture. This doesn’t actually help anything since a corridor is needed so I can get from my computer workstation to the whiteboard it is connected to, at the other end of the class. I constantly have to travel from one to the other. Finally, the science lab, the art room, and the library are not being used to reduce class sizes. I can’t fathom why. Oh, yeah ($). It isn’t Purell or arrows in the hallways (which aren’t quite two metres apart) that will keep us safe: it’s social distancing followed by the other tiers of protection.
Our PD days so far seem to be focused on making students feel safe, rather than being safe. We are asked to call each of our student’s parents to present ourselves, to verify their personal contact information, and to set up an online greeting session with their child. This is obviously a ploy to get us to answer first hand, the more difficult questions regarding the back to school plan and to give the illusion that teachers are on board with it.
There are also numerous holes in the “creative solutions” proposed to us (i.e., forbidding the use of lockers because they are too close to one another and don’t allow for social distancing=good idea; asking students to deposit their backpacks under their seats, onto the floor next to their outside shoes where the water droplets are likely to fall=bad idea).
Premier Doug Ford is downplaying his plan’s shortcomings by asking us to step up like the health care workers and the grocery store clerks. We are stepping up when our supervision time is being doubled for the foreseeable future (because there aren’t enough lunch ladies, bus drivers, or educators to fill all of the vacant positions). We are stepping up when we are simultaneously preparing our online platforms and our classrooms for countless hours on our own time (minus a small part of our PD days) just in case we go on lockdown again. We are stepping up when we are adding 15 minutes to our day to allow us to split snack time and the lunch hour to limit the number of students in the school yard at any given time. We are stepping up when we disinfect countless laptops, math manipulatives, and varying surfaces. We are stepping up by going to work knowing full well that schools are often ground zero for the flu, the common cold, and other infectious diseases on a good year; we are doing so during a global pandemic… But most importantly, we are stepping up by fighting for social distancing in schools so that we can keep everyone’s family safe! Now, it’s the conservative government’s turn to step up!
I want to thank you for giving us educators a chance to voice our concerns and for challenging the conservative governments back to school plans. Our unions are constantly vilified by the Premier and our administrators don’t seem to take our concerns or suggestions seriously.
PS And no, I will not be sending my own children to school this fall.
Our daughter is a high school teacher. This is her second day in the building and chaos reigns. No one of the approx sixty teachers in the building knows anything about what he/she will be teaching, what the timetables are, how the desks will be arranged, when school will start. The list is endless. Teacher morale is low. This will be bad for the students, as well.
Teachers who for various reasons, e.g., compromised immune system, have volunteered to teach remotely, will be compelled to do so from the school building, which is insane.
The Conservatives, with Ford at the helm, are acting in a vindictive manner towards the teachers.
Leonidas B—Concerned citizen, London
We hosted some transition days for students with special needs to gradually return to the classroom before all the other students arrive. On our first day back, I met two students without admin in the building, without caretakers being told that we would be there, and without proper PPE or sanitizer. We had to hunt down the caretakers and ask for a bottle of hand sanitizer. We had to wear our own mask, not a medical mask. And we did not have the face shields that we were told we would be given. We also didn’t have the disinfectant wipes we were told we would have. Our school was not ready. The program should’ve been cancelled when all of the proper supplies had not yet been delivered to the school. This was not okay.
I’m a teacher and we are being told that staff rooms where we normally eat our lunch and take our breaks are now going to be closed off.
so we have to eat our lunch in the classroom in front of the students, or outside or in our cars.
It’s very unsafe to eat our lunch in the classroom in front of our students because we have to remove our masks and shield in order to be able to eat. How is this ok?
eating outside or in the car won’t be very nice in the winter.
Please let me preface this by expressing my extreme disappointment with the virtual learning between March and June. Teachers were receiving their FULL TIME SALARY while only available to their classes for an hour a day—if at all.
The government and the teachers’ unions have had since MARCH to adjust sufficiently and it seems that they’ve presented some haphazard planning to the parents and students of this province.
I am very anxious as our school board—YRDSB, has yet to confirm that class sizes will be adjusted for social distancing.
Also, my high schooler is really only attending for a total of up to a maximum of 9 hours of in-class instruction. Why were we forced to commit to in-person learning when it appears that the number of in-class instructional hours is kept to attending only every other day?
Lastly, there appears to be a serious imbalance of instructional hours for each subject. An entire morning is dedicated to one subject and then 2.5 hours are reserved for the other three subjects. How will each subject have sufficient instruction time?
It doesn’t seem to me that Ontario is prepared to protect anyone from the inevitable spread of this virus.
Karen C—Parent, Markham
Why is distancing so important every where but when it comes to busing the students to school they think that they can fill the buses with 30 to 60 student witch is about 1/10 the size of a class room. We bus drivers don’t have a chance most bus drivers are 60 plus years of age think about the risk where taking give us a chance too where people too and deserve to live a long life as well talk about Yahoos don’t crowd bars the beaches the stores etc etc but crowd buses
Anonymous—School bus driver, Chatham
I am a parent for middle school and high school daughters and kids love to go back to school in person. The schools will be new for both and I am worried about the health and safety of the schools. My daughters are bright kids and follow the rules to wear masks, hand washing/using Sanitizer and keeping 2m physical distance to take care of them and others. I decided to send back to schools because it will benefit for mental and physical health of our kids. Also, our communities are not affected by COVID-19 and it is safe so far for TDSB schools.
I just want to bring the attention that many parents and kids are not wearing masks. Parents are role models for their kids and they must wear masks with kids. Will the kids wear masks properly in schools? The majority of the parents are worried about the health and safety at schools and please look into it and prevent to get COVID for our kids.
Parents need to know that their children will be heading back to classrooms that are being collapsed together. Doug Ford claims he has “hear nothing of classes collapsing together” but it happened today in every single classroom in our school. We now have 4 classrooms sitting empty. We had classes with 15-20 students, but now have rooms with 30-40. In kindergarten room now has 38 students because they closed the second kindergarten classroom and moved the teacher to online teaching. Not sure where this money to “hire more teachers is” but parents need to know their kids are returning to rooms where even 1m of distancing will not be possible.
Anonymous—Educator, North Bay
I think it’s ridiculous that you haven’t reduced the class size. I feel so sorry for the kids. Do more Ford
Christina Z—Parent, York
All these months we’ve been practicing social distancing and proper hygiene, however, in schools such practices are being set aside because schools need to open so desks that are crammed into rooms spaced out are not even 1 m apart. How is this social distancing? Also no one consider what will happen when multiple classrooms need to go to the washroom. How are those going to be cleaned continuously in a day when you have to manage all the traffic ? Also, I went into my classroom today and they said that there was deep cleaning done but instead I found tons of dust on top of the shelves and ledges that have been there for a very long time. What assurances are they giving about the cleaning of rooms when you see that? These are some of the things that as an educator we are now scrambling to do our best to make schools safe and we know we are failing. We were given an impossible task and feel absolutely abandoned by the giver enemy and administration that backs up this plan.
Hello. When schools closed, several devices were issued to students. The cost of one of the device is a minimum $300 ( a tablet ). The reason for my highlight is to advise you to issue infrared thermometers to at least some of the school staff. That way you can randomly and safely check students and staff from a distance and have a more efficient and inexpensive way to identify the major symptom of most severe acute respiratory syndromes which is fever. An example of the device is the UEI INF150 Infrared Thermometer. If staff have a quick and easy way to check students and themselves regularly and randomly, then that will assist in identifying potential cases. It is a simple, distance friendly way that can be applied when everyone comes in and moves around, and it will support tracing with the application of documenting who, what, when, where and why. With this, you have a better chance of answering the inevitable of question of how. My name is Osei J Charles, I am a G1 commercial/industrial Natural gas technologist, Pressure Vessel Welder for mig, tig, and arc, Journyman steam fitter for about 20 years. I am a member of Local 46. My wife and I have 2 kids, 9 year old daughter and a 5 year old son. So I am concerned, because I don’t see a technical approach to the back to school process in terms of HVAC. I just saw my kids schools MUA unit being retrofitted only today after almost 40 years. It was in the worst shape. Most of our schools still have asbestos in them, I should know, I’ve retrofitted the mechanical systems of approximately 30 public and Catholic schools within my career, so I know first hand what’s going on. All the money that the “Board” had saved up should have used to at least have proper maintenance contracts to monitor the condition of these old mechanical systems. It’s never too late to really help kids instead of sweeping these problems under the rug. Eventually it becomes a problem, like now. A week before school opens and you are just starting to address the HVAC. Not cool. Better invest in your education infrastructure. How can students learn in crappy buildings while all the “Board Members” have nice buildings. I should also know, I built some of them. Smarten up, and prove to the public that you are capable of handling this successfully.
Osei J C—Parent, North York
I was placed in kindergarten yesterday.
I normally teach grade one and have the fourth highest seniority at our school, however was not given a choice or conversation regarding the grade I would teach. My doctor has recommend accommodations which were ignored. This is a grade that has no policy on students wearing masks.
I have not been given any training or guidance on what the kindergarten program should be, given it is play-based. Which typically would be close contact and many shared materials with free flow snack and washroom breaks. If students are not able to share resources what are we supposed to use to occupy 6 hours of teaching time.
I have 24 students in my class. 3, 4 and 5 year olds will not sit for an entire day at one table. Nor will they be able to play outside without materials or know how to socially distance themselves, while keeping in their table bubble.
There is no plan and teachers are extremely anxious of the upcoming days.
My children will be in grade 1 and grade 3 at a very old and poorly maintained school in Toronto. Most windows don’t open. The ventilation system often doesn’t work at all. In September, there will be trades on site working on the bricks & windows, which means the windows in some classes will be boarded up. If this isn’t enough, we were recently told that our children will be sitting at shared tables with NO plexiglass.
My children want to go back to school. They miss their friends amd the school routine. But it is less and less likely that I can send them back. I cannot let my children be participants in a poorly designed science experiment.
Jennifer L—Parent, Toronto
I read that woman’s story (see pic). She’s teaching in the GYM to accommodate 32 students in a grade 4/5/6 split! NOT OK
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Kanata
I live in an area that is considered high risk. As a parent with one child going to SK and one child entering into JK it’s concerning and it’s terrifying. How will 4 and 5 year olds be able to wear masks indoor for three to four hours at a time without touching their faces or trying to readjust the masks if it becomes uncomfortable?
I highly doubt that social distancing can be exercised properly at a 1 metre distance. Kids are kids. They will interact and they will be close to each other.
What confuses me as a parent is how is it that the by-law mandates a physical distance of 2 metres between people yet when it comes to schools it’s at 1 metre distancing????? Does that make sense? If that’s the case and kids are subjected to 1 metre distancing the by-law should be changed as well for everyone else. It’s only fair.
If one kid or teacher in their cohort contracts the virus, it goes home with the child, gets spread throughout their bubble then gets carried on to someone else’s bubble and so forth. I don’t think it’s safe and the government should be asking for parents opinions in different areas their views and their concerns. What is more important? Opening schools or keeping everyone’s children safe? It takes one child or one teacher. I don’t know how much parents are willing to sacrifice their child’s health and safety.
Was told today that I am now teaching a virtual class from an empty room at my school. There are. 6 empty rooms due to parents opting for virtual classes rather than in person learning. The class next door has 28 grade 8 students, less than 50cm between desks.
I have no say in what I’ll be teaching virtually, but only have experience in teaching Intermediate students. I won’t know until Friday.
Great start to the year!
I attended the first back to school PD session today in my elementary school and am utterly appalled at the conditions we are being forced to teach students in. One bottle of subpar cheap hand sanitizer with no pump, overheated classrooms with desks pushed wall to wall. I have to literally shimmy down the walls to get from one end of the room to the other. Having students confined to their seats, masked, no equipment or games, social distancing at recess etc. How is this going to affect their mental health? Having every move monitored, hand sanitizer at every entry, waiting in lines with 6 feet separation, all materials they touch needing to be sanitized, indoor recess’ confined to their seats, staff forced to eat lunch in their cars because the staff room has been designated the isolation room. Special education and EsL learners tossed into the mainstream. Goodbye one to one. This is the most ludicrous plan I have ever heard of. I also suspect that our numbers will drop drastically once students see the conditions they are coming back to. This is a low point in education. And we should be ashamed that we allowed a bully like a Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce dictate this inhumane treatment.
I am an educator in a school that is working very hard to ensure the safety of students and staff. Sadly though, given the resources and staffing that we have been given it is not possible.
We have very few individual desks at our school. Which means that in almost every room there are two students sitting together at one table. The tables themselves are barely one metre in size, so how is it possible that the students can be adequately spaced?
We have two Intermediate classes that will have 29 students in them. They will be squeezed into rooms, sharing tables and in some instances placed in spots where they won’t be able to see the teacher or the board. Our Junior classes are also in the mid to high 20’s and are in classes with less square footage than the Intermediate rooms.
With the loss of students to the virtual school we have lost valuable staff and we now have multiple classrooms sitting empty. This is valuable space that could be used to space out students who are in unsafe situations.
I have attached a photo of a primary level classroom to give an idea of the size of the tables that are being shared by students. These will be shared by students that are not required to wear masks. Students who are vulnerable due to their age and developmental level that will limit their ability to respect social distancing protocols and to follow proper hygiene protocols. Our government is not ensuring the safety of these children. There are too many people that will be grouped together in spaces that are too small.
Despite every effort by staff to keep students contained to their cohorts, as soon as these children attend daycare and ride the bus with other students they will no longer be contained to one cohort.
I am an educator and a parent. I am not only terrified for the safety of my students but I am terrified for the safety of my own children and my family. After following all protocols for 6 months to keep my family safe, it will all be thrown out the window once we return to school. As an educator that must go to school, I have no option but to send my own children to school. They cannot stay at home alone to attend virtual school.
Please help! Something needs to be done to protect our children!
Jacquelyne B—Educator, Whitby
I’m feeling pushed to retire two years early because my safety seems to be unimportant to the current government
Stephen C—Educator, Tiny
It doesn’t matter what type of back to school plan the governments sets forward because the school buses are going to be ground zero for an outbreak of new infections. I mean honestly why limit the classroom to 27 when there will be upwards of 50 students riding at any one time on a school bus. We all know how spacious a school bus is. Please show me the 2m distancing happening there. Not to mention bus drivers were told they would be provided with PPE, so far we’ve been giving paper masks that were made in China. They are non medical grade and will not provide protection from anything. And let’s not forget that we as bus drivers have now become sanitation expert, all for the same pathetic rate we are paid. Instead of having professional sanitation done, the drivers are required to walk through the bus with a windex type spray bottle and paper towel. Tell me parents, doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy about putting your children on a school bus?
Anonymous—School bus driver, Scarborough
I would be on board with online “Learning from home” If there were a proper plan in place.
The whole world has moved online, yet we seem to be struggling here with the education system in Ontario.
The “covid months” at school were horrendous for students. No Real teaching, No real learning, No accountability for both teachers and students and No sense of community or support shown from schools or board.
Our children were left adrift these last few months.
I have no choice but to send my children to school in the hopes that they will get some semblance of an education in person.
I will not put my children through again what they just experienced online.
But, My fear (as well as my children catching covid) is that the teachers Union will now, once again use our children as pawns to stop Everything if they don’t get their way in regards to opening the schools the way they see fit.
My youngest is having to prep for high school. School does not come easy to her. She basically had a missed year last year (strikes/covid) and if I’m betting, we’re in for another year of interruptions.
The education of our children can not be sacrificed.
As we enter this school year, school staff are expected to engage with parents and the community through virtual online meetings, emails, and phone calls. If virtual meetings are not possible, an in-person meeting CAN be arranged that adheres to health and safety protocols. This comes directly from our staff training document pertaining to COVID-19. Do parents also know that the very first “in person” staff meetings will consist of individual teachers sitting in their own separate classrooms, connecting with staff/school personnel via Google Meet? Yet, in just a week’s time, these same spaces will be flooded with high numbers of children in these very same small spaces. That says something, doesn’t it?
Anonymous—Educator, North York
My school and board has decided that instead of smaller classes they will max the numbers and move 5 teachers to remote teaching. So instead of making smaller classes which they could easily do they have maxed the numbers and got rid of teachers in the school.
a friends school in same board has classes wIth a 3 grade split! 5/6/7 split;
my school has multiple classes with splits when they could have had single classes with a few less students.
in Both cases schools are known trillium Lakelands
High school students enrolled in Special Education small classes are not cohorted on a bus. Students from all 4 classes are mixed together on small buses, some 2 to a seat. Before the pandemic 90% of the same students were actually already cohorted on their bus. This year when cohorting on a bus is so important, why did it change?
There are currently 35 children enrolled in my kindergarten class. No desks left in our board. Have to sit 2 kids to a table. No room for distancing. Getting cardboard dividers – no plexiglass. This is an epic failure.
Class sizes are going down due to online enrollment but Doug Ford is forcing these classes to be collapsed (combined with another class to maintain the ridiculous class sizes and save him money) That means many classes are going to be empty, teachers left without jobs for Doug Ford to save a few dollars he is risking everything and lying to everyone.
I don’t feel confident that we have been informed as a public of your back to school strategy. It seems ill prepared. When a kindergarten teacher tells me she has 28 kids in a class and are aged 3- 5 . I feel that we are not stepping up to the best of our abilities – to utilize space and accommodate those large class sizes. To be honest – i expected MORE from Ontario and our country. Why can’t we be world wide examples ? There appears to be no plan and no support for either teachers or parents! We should be leading by example!
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Woodstock
I am a school bus driver for special needs children. These children do not understand boundaries, not to cough or sneeze on others and most likely will not permit the wearing of masks. My company is refusing to put partitions on our buses and have not made us aware of any safety measures being put in place. As a retired person with both asthma and diabetes, I am choosing not to return to work. I believe the schools should remain closed until a vaccine is in place for the well being of all. The virus is still among us, it hasnt gone anywhere. Why are we opening the schools? If you truly care about the children, prove it.
Victoria K—School bus driver, London
My kindergarten class will have no tables or chairs. Each child gets half a yoga mat. They are socially distanced by 1m and they will eat, play and spend their day on ONE YOGA MAT. By themselves. This is a travesty.
Katherine B—Educator, Alliston
In my classroom in Brampton:
– last week the temperature hit 30 plus humidity on several days (try wearing a cloth mask all day in that!)
– windows only open a few inches outward, which does not allow for a breeze
-no working fan, we cannot bring personal fans, and fans cannot be pointed anywhere except a wall or ceiling
– to put 20 desks in plus a teacher desk (which I normally do not have but staff rooms and work rooms are closed and I need somewhere to eat and do work), I could only maintain a distance of 60cm. I’m there is a chance I could have uspwards of 25 students, which will mean refiguring and likely less than 50cm
-masking becomes useless at lunch. We are less than 1m removing masks and eating at the same time. Why bother wearing masks at all, then?
Anonymous—Educator, Taylor Drive
What I find amazing is that for the 3 PD days in the first week of September, all PD is virtual because we can’t risk transmission of Covid. But next week we will be adding, in some cases, a thousand students in the building. If we’re terrified of transmission when there is only 60 educators in the building, why are we not terrified when there is over 1000 in the same building a few days later?
My grandson is going into Senior Kindergarten at Maple Ridge E.S. In Orleans Ontario. Due to the on line learners who wouldn’t be attending, the three class sizes were down to 19 students each, a very manageable number that would give the kids space. Instead, the school was forced to collapse one class and form two classes of 28 and 29! The rooms will be crowded and not allow any form of social distancing. This is a crime!
I am a phed teacher in a high school in Barrie. I have received no guidelines on what can/can’t play. We are really scrambling to come up with a program that keeps kids interested and engaged for four hours.
In order to plan properly it would be nice to have some guidelines.
The plan also has kids kids eating in the weight room without supervision. Last year I would have been disciplined had I left students unsupervised, yet this year it’s acceptable. I want to know who is liable should a student get hurt. I was told to tell the students not to use the equipment and that should be enough. Teenagers don’t always listen. Lol
There is also not enough physical space in rooms to have up to 34 desks.
All of the reasons why kids want to come back, I.e. socialization, sports, going to the plaza for lunch are all being stripped as they are forced to sit in the same room for six hours a day. Mental health will suffer and absenteeism will skyrocket.
Val H—Educator, Shanty Bay
I drive a school van, i have been supplied a mask and cleaning supplies along with instructions on how to clean the van
Anonymous—School bus driver, Arnprior
I don’t think anyone anticipated what it would be like for school staff who have not seen each other for months. Some of these people have worked together 10-20 years. At almost every school new staff are being welcomed. Education workers are caring and social. If anyone on staff has the virus, everyone who is susceptible will have it by the time the students start.
I applied to my board for an accommodation, and was granted one which allows me to teach virtually from my school within my existing classroom, which will be filled with excess furniture in storage from other classrooms. I’m eternally grateful for this opportunity, especially after hearing what my colleagues will be facing. 😔 Recess has been rebranded as “snack breaks”, since the students will only be allowed to sit in their seats and have a 15-minute snack at that time. The same applies to lunch…one hour sitting in the same chair at the same desk they’ve been sitting in all morning (save for a scheduled half-hour outdoor lesson twice a day, which can’t be free time and can’t involve contact sports or anything that might work up a sweat). On rainy days, those kids will be sitting at those desks for literally six hours, a metre apart from 24 other classmates. Coatracks and cubbies are off limits, so all belongings will be cluttering up the student spaces. I cannot imagine winter, with coats, backpacks, and lunches vying for space in the aisles, which are only about 50cm wide. Emergency evacuations are going to be downright dangerous. We all have PPE (face shields and masks, and we must only wear the board-supplied masks, which we will be supplied on a biweekly basis), and classrooms will have a bottle of hand sanitizer, but they haven’t provided bottles with attached pumps, which will make handling it more challenging. We haven’t yet had training in traffic flow or washroom procedures…that might be today’s PD.
All in all, my school board is taking precautions very seriously…but school is going to feel like prison this year to many kids. Teachers, too.
I am a classroom teacher with an autoimmune disorder on immunosuppressant medication. My neurologist does not advise I return to the school building but I am more then willing to teach online from home. My school board Dufferin-Peel CDSB will not accommodate me. I have 3 choices, unpaid leave, resign, retire. I have been their employee for 15 years. I am disgusted with how DPCDSB is bullying and discriminating against people like me with a medical disability and hearing our own elected officials publicly slander hardworking professionals.
Andrea C—Educator, Caledon
My children will be returning to school. Not because I want them to but because I’m not certain that the remote learning option is ready to go. I was surprised to find out that a plan hadn’t been put in place since March. I’m also shocked that the government and school boards are scrambling to pull it together last minute. The Ontario government should have had a plan ready by June and the fact that they waited so long is why I opted to have my kids go to school in person. What I’m the most frustrated about is that despite reports that a good percentage of students in elementary schools are going to use the remote option, the schools are still forced to collapse classes. Why? If you have enough teachers come back to the school, why are you planning to lay them off to combine classes? It feels like the government is not providing schools enough funding to keep teachers in place and that’s a huge problem for my family. I also don’t like the fact that my kids’ school is not available to answer questions. Any time I contact the school I’m told to refer to the school board site. I want to know what is going to happen in the upcoming year because if their school is not able to properly protect my children, I may have to change my plans and have them stay home. It’s a terrible situation.
The desks in my classroom are less then a meter in front of each other and less then half a meter between each other.
I feel this can’t be safe .
Applying for accommodation (age and medical condition) was denied by HR at my Board. To be stuck in a 10m by 7m by 2.5 m box with 32 (current enrollment) 15 to 17 year olds with 10 disposable masks per week and one reusable face shield for two 75 minute periods in a row with no breaks is reckless endangerment of all concerned. There is no possible way to get adequate separation (or adequate ventilation) for that concentration of people in the room. Class size of 20 or less is required!
I have to send my daughter (gr 1) to school as i have no choice as I work full time. I’m really nervous about this as I know the classrooms in my child’s school are no way bigger to maintain distancing of 2 metres with 20 kids in each class, not possible. Its really frustrating how the premier goes in one of the bigger schools and shows how to arrange the desks, is it really possible in all the schools? no way!
We ask the govt to please reduce the class size
I hope parents of elementary aged children understand that their kids will be eating lunch within a filled classroom.
Assuming your child’s class is larger than 15, it’s safe to assume physical distancing is not possible.
This means that within a small space, a large number of students will be not distanced and not wearing masks. Add to that poor ventilation…
If you wouldn’t take your family to a restaurant with these conditions and public health has advised against such conditions, why are schools doing it?
I hope parents of elementary aged children understand that their kids will be eating lunch within a filled classroom.
Assuming your child’s class is larger than 15, it’s safe to assume physical distancing is not possible.
This means that within a small space, a large number of students will be not distanced and not wearing masks. Add to that poor ventilation…
If you wouldn’t take your family to a restaurant with these conditions and public health has advised against such conditions, why are schools doing it?
I am an elementary teacher in central Ontario. What concerns me that most at this point is the disregard for physical distancing as we prepare to reopen schools. Over the last 5 months, the importance of physical distancing and it’s effectiveness in limiting the spread of Covid-19 has been at the forefront. My family and I have religiously followed this advice and have kept ourselves (and others) safe. Fast forward to this week, when I had to set up my classroom to accommodate 28 Grade 5 students. I tried to allow one metre of distance between desks, but could only fit 18 desks in the room. In order to fit all 28, there is barely 5o cm between desks. Is this safe? I can not get anyone to give me a straight answer. It’s not safe at the grocery store or the pharmacy, so why is it safe at school?? I really hope that parents realize that these are the conditions that they are sending their children into. There is no physical distancing. Classes are not smaller (in many cases, they are larger). There is so much misinformation out there in the media. I was in disbelief as I watched our Premier tour a school yesterday, where the desks were distanced at least a metre and a half apart. Or when a news feature ran last week, showing secondary classrooms, where every second desk would sit empty. This will not be the reality for the majority of public school classrooms in the province. I realize that a significant amount of money has been invested in ensuring a #SafeSeptember, but for me, that looks like a face shield, a medical mask and a big bottle of hand sanitizer for my 28 students to share.
Music, french and physical ed teachers are the only teachers required to go class to class. All other teachers are only exposed to their 1 class of students. This exposes these itinerant teachers to hundreds of students daily and also completely defeats the purpose of trying to keep all students separate. The unions and boards have failed in protecting these teachers and our students.
1. Poor school staff. Cleaning rooms and moving a tonne of supplies/ boxes in June and early Monday… only to be told they are moving again …this is physically draining.
Today I am told to use painters tape to section off sink area and desks. I’m sorry, do we ask other workers (hairdressers, doctors,clerks) to place barriers and tape in their workspaces. This is awful. Delay opening until we can get this in order.
We are also being told to log every time a student goes to washroom… for contact tracing. I am going to spend my whole day with “hand washing” and logging washroom visits. Students have to stay seated … in their spot. These measures will not create good emotional health.
I do not have room for the 26 students on my class register. See image below.
My TDSB school doesn’t have enough hand sanitizer at present to have a bottle in every classroom. There will be hand sanitizer at the front doors, and maybe some at communal locations in the hallways. They are trying to acquire more bottles of hand sanitizer so that every classroom will eventually have one.
John M—Educator, North York
With the data on covid-19 and how it rarely affects children I am not concerned about them contracting the virus and becoming ill. I believe that all of the extra funding and measures the Ontario government has taken are sufficient to helping my kids get back to school safely. I know our great teachers will help my kids with their development and will get their education and mental health back on track.
Ryan D—Parent, Richmond Hill
Just told that all education staff will not be getting a shield; unless you have a special needs student.
I am pretty sure we were told, by the Ford govt that we would be getting shields and masks.
My husband is a teacher. He will see 120 kids a day.
in a staff meeting, physical distancing (even if 1 metre) wasn’t maintained (too small a room) and when he spoke up was told “too bad” and that nothing would be done.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Cumberland
I am the mother of a Grade 8 teacher and the grandmother of a Grade 6 student.
My son teaches Grade 8 math at the local secondary school where the Grade 7 and 8 students attend.
He was told his students were elementary students who would remain in a home room cohort for the day and he assumed he would be their teacher for the day. Then two weeks ago when he received his timetable, he learned that he would be teaching math on rotary to three classes. Yesterday he learned that the classes vary in size from 24 students to 28 students. All said, he will teach approximately 75 to 80 students each day in three different classrooms.
My granddaughter’s class has 26 students. We have assured her that if her class is more than 15 students she does not have to attend class in person.
Her mother teaches kindergarten. Her class has 24 students.
I provide care for my granddaughter when she does not attend school because it is a PD Day or when she is ill.
I am 70 years old and my husband is 75 years old. Both of us are vulnerable to COVID infection because of our age, but my husband has lost a kidney to cancer which makes him even more vulnerable.
So, now, after religiously self-isolating in a social circle of fewer than 10 people and avoiding interaction in a social gathering since March, we will be exposed to a total of 125 students and that does not include exposure to staff at two different schools.
I cannot take the risk and we are not forced to consider that we should not continue to interact with my son and his family until there is a vaccine available. This means my son no longer someone to care for his child when he works and the school board will be forced to find a supply teacher for the days his child cannot attend school. Since she is prone to a chronic sore throat, this could mean he or his child’s mother will require supply teachers for weeks at a time because as soon as my granddaughter has a sore throat we may all have to isolate until she tests negative for COVID.
How many other teachers will require supply teachers to teach for them while they stay home with their children who cannot be cared for by their grandparents because the class sizes are so large?
My granddaughter says she may attend school for the first couple of days to see what it is like, but she is strongly considering not returning to school. She is very anxious about catching the virus and is not sure when the first day of school actually arrives that she will even attempt to return to school.
She hated online learning in the spring because her teacher was told to make it creative so the lessons were totally different than anything she had encountered in school prior to the shutdown. Her teacher was told not to record a lesson standing in front of a white board because the principal did not want parents to see teachers using old teaching methods.
My granddaughter often sat and cried while attempting to do her online work.
The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto has recommended class sizes of 10 to 15 students, but Doug Ford is determined to increase class sizes and he will do it regardless of a pandemic. In fact, schools are now collapsing three grades into one class, if the classes do not average 25 students, while classrooms are sitting empty and teachers are being laid off.
This is unconscionable.
Ford continues to bash the teachers’ unions for not co-operating.
As a result my entire family is strung out like a cat on a hot tin roof and it is Doug Ford that is creating this anxiety.
Is it not bad enough that my granddaughter refuses to touch door knobs because she fears contracting this virus? On top of that anxiety Doug Ford creates even more for her by stubbornly refusing to follow the SickKids recommendation on class sizes, even after the SickKids CEO and president came out and said he could not support the government’s policy on class sizes.
The premier says he is anxious. Well, I have a suggestion. Reduce class sizes to the recommended size of 10 to 15 students and your anxiety will decrease along with everyone else’s.
Doug Ford says he has teachers coming up to him and apologizing for their unions’ decision to appeal to the Ontario Relations Board, because the Ministry of Labour has failed to respond to their requests for appropriate health and safety standards in the schools to make it safe for teachers to return to work. That’s bullshit!
Social media is on fire this morning with comments from teachers and parents who are now learning that not only will class sizes not be held to 10-15 students, but smaller classes which do approach the size recommended by the health experts will be collapsed into one large class while classrooms remain empty.
Doug Ford is determined to use the pandemic to increase class sizes, regardless of what the health experts advise, because he is determined to win the battle with the teachers about class size. He had to back down last fall and now he sees an opportunity to collapse classes and lay off teachers. Class sizes will average 25 students regardless of whether it is safe for our teachers and students.
It’s all about winning, ideology and politics. To hell with the safety of our children and grandchildren.
And parents thought if some children did not return to school, because they were choosing online learning instead of in-person instruction, that class sizes would be smaller and it would be safe for their children to return to school.
Now they are learning that the smaller classes will be collapsed into one large class and their children will be attending school in a large class regardless of how many children choose online learning.
Little did they realize this was Doug Ford’s plan all along.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Goderich
I am excited to get back to school and see my students. However, I know it’s going to be different this year for myself and for my students. Even though we are taking measures to physically distance, I still don’t think there is enough distance. The other day Dr. DeVilla clearly stated that there will definitely be a resurgence and she urges everyone to say in a daily bubble of 10. How can this be possible if the students and myself will be in a daily bubble of approximately 28? This clearly contradicts what Dr. Williams says. Is Doug Ford and his government really taking the chance on the lives of our young children? No one really knows what will happen and as we listen to the news about new lock downs in different countries around the world, it’s inevitable that we will follow suit.
We have NOT received any PPE and there is no hand sanitizer stations anywhere in the school for teachers. The PD we have received is a waste of time. It’s day 2 of in school PD and we still have not learning anything about the safety protocols required to keep staff and students safe.
Two weeks before the start of the school year, we still had no idea how big the classes in our daughter’s school were going to be, and what the measures were to ensure safety and early detection. We decided to go online. Figured since we could do it, we would be helping others by opting out — making classes smaller for the kids whose parents could not opt out. I was shocked to hear about the school boards combining classes and ending up with 30+ students as a result. This is so dangerous!
Maxim V—Parent, Richmond Hill
I see a lot of people complaining that “the plan” is not adequate, or that they are not “comfortable” sending their kids back to school. I respect everyone’s opinion, however, I would encourage contributors to make suggestions that would make you “feel comfortable” sending your kids back. I think “the plan” is fair and reasonable, and for the past 5 months I’ve been educating my 3 kids on how they should behave in public, and more recently when they return to school. I know everyone will not agree, but don’t just complain, offer some suggestions.
Thomas W—Parent, Orangeville
Where to begin…
As an educator I have MANY MANY concerns about what is going on right now in schools.
The class sizes are too big.
The desks cannot be put 2 metres apart to ensure safe distance if our classes are too big and not reduced in numbers.
Parents do not want their children to wear masks all day long. How are we supposed to enforce this if parents will not comply with what public health wants students to wear? Impossible.
Remote learning is NOT successful at all with elementary age students, They do NOT have the capability to sit in front of a computer screen for 6-7 hours all day long to simulate online schooling. It is also unhealthy for students of elementary age to be staring at a screen all day long.
HVAC systems, air conditioning, air purifying, NONE OF THIS has been updated in our school. We have no air con, no air purifying, this has been an ongoing battle with our board since forever. Everybody is sweating buckets in the summer months and getting no relief.
Broken windows, broken screens, if we are meant to keep air circulating, but these items are broken, then this is not possible.
All the people who work in education are being sent back to schools as guinea pigs, so that Doug Ford and his government can see what happens when you release hundreds and thousands of people back into the same space, do they get covid, who has to quarantine, who gets sick, who doesn’t. It makes you feel like we are the specimens in a lab experiment.
And where is all the money for technology to support those kids who can’t afford or don’t have it??? Where are all the supports that we can see for students who are special needs? We haven’t seen any of this come through, I doubt it will.
This is all a disaster waiting to happen, for a second time.
Parents need to go back to work and kids need to go back to school. Kids need social contacts, not staying at home alone. Online study and homework are a huge stress for parents. Parents don’t know how to teach children to do the homework. I only have one child, he has not played with friends for months and I am going mad. I am eager to send my child to school and can be tolerant to no distance and no masks.
We were just informed our child will be in a larger class size this year. Our school had 4 kinder classes last year. This year it has three classes for the same amount of children. The reason for this we are being told is that they have lost a teaching position or FTE. Why are schools forced to make class sizes larger than last year. The school was built in the 1950’s
Its only been one day since the commencement of regular work activities at my Peel District School Board Job, working in a field office.
There has been a letter that went out today that someone in the office has contracted Covid-19 but “its ok” because that person was wearing a mask on a regular basis.
There is over 100 people working out of crammed office space at 215 Orenda Road, Brampton ON. Most office are shared by 2 – 3 professional services staff.
Are they supposed to shut down and clean? Also, in previous years the air quality in the building has been questioned and an environmental assessment was denied by an employee.
Anonymous—Support staff, 247 Queen St E
Think that online classes mean small cohorts for face to face learning? Nope. At my school and schools across YRDSB massive reorganizations are occuring. This means classes are being collapsed and students are being shuffled into new classes to fill in “gaps”. Ask any teacher, they have the emails to prove it.
I think Doug Ford and the Education Minister have done a great job of insuring that back to school will be as safe as it can be. Kudos to them.
Shame on the teachers and Unions doing their self serving best to muddle it up
Bill P—Parent, Grimsby
I am currently on maternity leave and grateful that I do not have to make the difficult decision to return to work. For the last 6 months it has been drilled into our heads to maintain physical distance and wear a mask. I could not see my family for months which was devastating for my toddler and myself with a newborn, and now we are shoving 30 kids in a classroom.
I have taught kids from pre-k to adult learning. It is impossible to have physical distancing with the numbers the government is suggesting. If anyone has spent more than 5 minutes with more than 5 kids, they know it’s impossible. If they have set foot in any school that is more than 50 years old, the HVAC systems are nonexistent.
Lower class sizes to lower the possibility of someone becoming very sick or dying…one death is too many.
I am an educator and a parent and I treat all my students like my own kids. I am afraid for their safety as well as the safety of their families. I think it is unfair to say that teachers aren’t stepping up just because we want the safest situation possible…and that is reducing the amount of people each student and teacher are in contact with.
I am saddened to watch our custodians lift and move table, after table, after table from portables to classrooms. Then, after last minute changes, carry them back to the portables. Or move furniture out of classrooms to lessen crowding. This is physically draining. I wouldn’t doubt it, if some burn out… this is NOT FAIR!!!!!!! I’ve seen teachers clean their new classroom, move all their stuff in, only to be told, sorry, you are now teaching online, move your stuff back out. Given the fact that teachers collect dozens of items (supplies, games, materials etc.) to improve and supplement programming, having them move these items twice, is HURENDOUS! We are talking 20-40 boxes. And who knows… in a week, they may have to move again.
Not fair !
By the way… check out our sanitizers… given for the first couple of days !
And no shields unless you have students with special needs ?!?! Where are the shields promised?
I am impressed with all the safety measures my board is taking with constant changing procedures and plans, severe lack of funding to keep us socially distant and training around Covid 19. I am equally impressed by my colleagues commitment to student safety and well-being. Conversations during training in the elementary school I am in have been around helping students to adjust to a changing learning environment with care and concern. Teachers are having conversations about how to deliver the curriculum, how to keep each other and our students and their parents positive about their schooling experience. Teachers telling stories about how they will not be able to see their elderly parents or family members once children start arriving in school. Teachers losing their positions in schools and boards because of the online learning option depleting attendance at schools and the same funding formulas started by the Harris conservative government being applied during an historic pandemic. Students won’t see teachers that have been in their schools for 5 to 10 years anymore. The disruption, the chaos by the Ford Nation Conservative plan for school reopening is cruel, is dangerous, and irresponsible. We need cohorts of 10 to 15 students. We need to value public education. I’m going to go and try my best to support students and my fellow staff, hoping that illness, long lasting physical detriments, chosing unpaid leave and economic devastation to avoid death, or risking death won’t be an outcome for any children, families, education workers or myself.
My son has severe food allergies. He is supposed to start orientation next week on Wed for JK. I have requested a meeting with the school, however I have not heard back about a date (virtual or in-person) to meet with the teacher and staff to go over our anaphylaxis and asthma plan and have the forms signed. The school is saying the teacher is assigned but they are subject to change considering the pandemic re-opening plans. They dont want to have the teacher trained if they are not his teacher. This doesnt make sense as the information must be shared amongst educators and other school staff must know in any case. Especially if there is a substitute. I understand they are working hard to prepare for a safe restart regarding the pandemic but other health related issues cannot be ignored. I was told by office staff to just not send him if I was nervous. It’s absolutely irresponsible to not meet and review the plan, I will not be sending him to orientation or to school until I meet and go over the plan with the school. Very disappointed. The reopening issues should not affect children with special needs.
I’m divorced my son lives with his mom monday to friday, its difficult situation courts still going on, trying to get my son full time its been a struggle. School is concerning, I want my son to learn in a class room its best, but I feel its not safe under the ford plan. Very concerned with class sizes but I have not much choice.
I have learned that Northbrae Public School went from 441 students to 316, and yet TVDSB cut the number of classes from 20 to 12. The school was given funding for 2 additional classrooms, but even with a total 14 classes, the two grade 7/8 classes are already over cap at 30 and 31, and every primary class is at cap. There will be 7 classrooms and a library sitting completely empty. How does this make any sense?
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, 1118 Adelaide St N
Sitting in a meeting for 3 days. 30 people, 30 degrees, windows open 4 inches. Picture shows tables we sat at. Wiped it down ourselves. Guess extra cleaning staff is a rumour.
My child is in grade 6 in our Catholic Board and her class is being “collapsed”. In normal years her class was at 24 students. This year it is at 26! How does this make sense during a pandemic? Shouldn’t classes be smaller based on the advise from Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto?
Also my husband is a grade 5 Public Board school teacher. He initial class list was at 22. It then crept to 24. He is also a victim of a collapsed class and now will be teaching a 5/6 split with 26 students in a portable. No running water and no room to social distance. How is this safe?
For a couple of extra dollars per student we could have a safe reopening of schools. Instead the conservative government has decided to play fiscal politics with our children’s safety. Maybe the money would be there instead of giving the wealthiest a $1 billion tax break.
Maria E—Parent, Niagara Falls
Well planned out. Everything possible being done.
We are not being given wipes, despite the training video that mentioned we were going to have them for common areas; hand sanitizer is below grade..65% alcohol.
As of today, there are no social distancing signs in the school; no arrows on floors.
Air conditioning is not on and/or working.
Im work in Catholic board in Mississauga.
We have 3 empty classrooms in our school yet 4 junior classes sit at over 28 students. One grade 5 class has 31 students. Desks are placed right at white board at front if the room, so students won’t even be able to view smart board/lessons at front. Why can’t these over crowded classes that don’t have physical distancing be split up and another teacher takes half into one the empty classrooms?
I came in to set up my classroom and ended up cleaning Rat/Mouse feces from under the sink and cupboard area. I had to throw out all my papers and other consumables that were there. After spending hours cleaning and sanitizing myself in a NON-AC poorly vented room I was dripping in sweat. It’s NOT my job to do this cleaning but I do it because if I had to wait….I’d be waiting forever and I needed to get my class ready!
Wife works for Peel. They are scrambling for PPE. Board had vendors they were going to use to buy the PPE but then the ministry said- no no. We will look after it and purchase it. Now – orders are missing, orders have the wrong items, partial orders are coming and everyone is scrambling.
My wife is receiving mixed messages that are constantly changing – emails are out of control.
it will be a very hard year for everyone.
Carlo A—Concerned citizen, Mississauga
We are not ready. The plans do not meet the standards set out by public health. Physical distancing cannot happen, class sizes remain similar to previous years’, there are no back up plans in place for when there are roadblocks. We are not ready. Expect outbreaks.
2 pm, Wednesday, September 2nd, we find out that our school has to collapse two classes. Two staff members will become online teachers. Every other staff member is impacted because the students who were meant to be in the collapsed classes will be moved to other classes. Now all classes are at 28 students. Furniture to be moved. New timetables needed. Not sure we can still offer French immersion. We’re going to be teaching different subjects than those we’ve been planning for, but we don’t know for sure which subjects. Don’t let Doug lie to you. Schools are reorganizing, classes are collapsing, and it’s happening less than a week before classes were meant to resume.
I am a front line worker and have had to go to work every day throughout this pandemic. I think nothing is perfectly safe anymore so I want to say go back to work. Teachers make a lot of money and are educated individuals so they can figure it out just like the rest of us
Victoria V—Parent, Etobicoke
We are excited to get our children back to school to socialize with their friends and begin learning. We’ve had several months to learn social distancing and proper hand washing. We are very pleased so far with the way that the school has handled our return. We have full confidence in the provincial leadership through this pandemic. These are unprecedented times and I feel that the Provincial administration has done the very best that could be expected under the circumstances. We look forward to Tuesday!
I have 25 kids in my split 4/5 classroom as of today.
The kid’s desks are an arm’s length away from each other – at best!
Kids desks are backed onto walls so I can “CRAM” them all in.
There is no plan on storing personal belongings (coats, backpacks and such). The plan to date is to put them in their desks (they will not fit – I tried the idea), as I use stools in my classroom. If I use chairs I lose serious space.
My personal teaching space at the front of the room is a three-foot semi-circle.
This is insane!
Staff sitting physically distanced in our gym for professional development today. Principal at front wearing a mask and speaking. But we can’t hear her. Her words are muffled. We are straining to decipher her message and work through the PD topics from the board. Here we are, adult educators struggling to hear and learn. How will students manage?! Just one example of how student learning will be affected without proper funding.
I just found out my job for this year was cut by 2/3. There were multiple other teachers also cut from my school with no other work lined up, essentially disposed to supply teach now. With my cuts it will be difficult to supply and thus my wages are below my cost of living. This is common for many secondary teachers. If I am lucky, I will be able to get a part time job somewhere else in the private sector to make a livable wage. The Ford government has lied about collapsed classes and lost jobs.
My school is having the windows replaced. Apparently there is a massive back order and they won’t be ready until October!!
this is what I have to work with (please note, I need to set the desks up still)
Melinda N—Educator, Scarborough
A high school in Sault Ste. Marie is not respecting cohorts. Just because it’s too hard to give cohorted breaks, they are letting kids mix in at least 4 cohorts twice per day during instructional time. This puts everyone at risk. The rule is less than 100 contacts. This goes dangerously above that. Impossible to contact trace and irresponsible to parents, students and staff.
Anonymous—Educator, Sault Ste. Marie
I’m a music teacher in 2 schools in the GTA. I service over 400 students a week. I am required to go into 20+ different classrooms. I asked why this was okay and I was told to “you’re ok with a mask”.
I could potentially spread covid amongst 400 students, 20+ staff over 2 schools. How is this allowed to happen!
I just found out one week before my kid goes to school that there will be 28 people in the classroom. 1 meter apart. Isn’t it supposed to be 2 meters(6ft)? It’s a split class of 12 grade 4’s and 16 grade 5’s. I would be more comfortable having 2 separate classes at instead of merging them to 28. I’m very disappointed. I thought smaller class sizes was one of the first steps to a safer school year during Covid.
Susie C—Parent, Whitby
No secured statements of health statements at all. No one has admitted we will have a secured workplace in Ford’s safe classes. Children of teaching staff.
Jim D—Educator, Mississauga
This was taken at an Ontario high school.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Kitchener
Kids need the structure of being in school. We need to work together to make this a safe and successful school year. I really don’t think the Unions should be stomping their feet right now – we lost most of last year due to strikes and once the pandemic hit … at home learning was a disaster. So please don’t put road blocks in the way of families scrambling to ensure the best education for their children. Let’s just work together.
Let’s not forget that some do have the option of online learning if parents are not feeling comfortable with in-class learning.
I am a teacher in the peel board and have been told that I will be teaching 9n average 24.5 kids. There will be empty classrooms in our school but mine will be packed. I don’t understand the safety in this. I go to my local restaurant and I have to follow stronger guidelines. I have older parents that I have told this is our last weekend, since I will be exposed. All around I feel I have been told all is normal when it’s not.
I’m a secondary school teacher. The instructions we have received are that students are to wear a mask for the full 300 learning minutes each day while they are in their classes, but during their 40 minutes of lunch, that take place in the same classroom, students are taking their masks off to eat.
I’m not a doctor but of the students take their masks off during lunch and eat in the classroom all together doesn’t that render wearing a mask in the first place utterly useless??
Im very concerned with the games the teachers Union and potical party’s are playing. My kids are in grade 6 and 8. Last year’s education was a joke with the teacher strikes and now the union is preparing the same game plan.
Get the teachers back to work in the safest way possible. Work with the Ontario government.
Its very very disturbing that kids education is seen as less important than political posturing and big union greed.
Please share my feedback with premier Ford. He has my support.
Anonymous—Parent, East York
In a homeroom class of 20 students at the junior grade and majority of this subjects. The students are a metre apart. In my teaching space, I am less than a metre from the students. My teaching space includes the whiteboard and computer I use to project information on the screen. If there was a cap of 15, everyone would have space and be safer.
I am very concerned that a lot of boards are not willing to use their reserve funding, and therefore are collapsing classes and resulting in classrooms that will sit empty. This is unacceptable and the Ford government needs to be capping class sizes to mandate the use of all available funding!!
Jessica T—Parent, Courtice
Thank you for providing this forum for us. I am a high school teacher of 21 years in the Niagara Region and like the vast majority of my colleagues, I wish to return to the classroom for face-to-face interaction with my students. Notwithstanding the many merits of online learning, if administered properly, the lack of real time with students is ultimately detrimental to their future development. However, based on my experience this week as we returned to our school building, I am convinced that we need to either stagger the opening of the return to class or remain online altogether until this pandemic is controllable with a vaccine. The stakes are simply too high.
I was shocked and completely disheartened to observe that little to no effort had been made to modify our building to conform with even the most basic safety requirements. There were no directional signs posted, as one might see in a grocery store, no plexiglass barriers installed, as in many retail shops or banks, and absolutely no effort to deal with the poor ventilation system in this 100 year-old building. I contacted the Board office with these concerns, inquired about creating a plexiglass screen at the front of my desk, and was told that Board employees are not allowed to make any modifications to the classroom environment. I also inquired about obtaining a higher grade mask (N-95) for my use instead of the required Board-issued level 1 mask and was told that a doctor’s note was needed (cost of $35). One-third of my very old windows in the classroom are either bolted shut or stuck to prevent their opening. The only visible modifications that I observed throughout the building was the placement of some student desks in hallways with a bottle of hand sanitizer on it.
I do not wish to be exhaustive about these issues. The bottomline is that I am extremely worried about returning to a work environment that has not been given even the basic safety considerations, and a general attitude of “Well, these are extraordinary times and we’ll just have to figure things out as we go.” A return to a viable school setting can be possible but ONLY when these concerns are properly addressed. I am, of course, only speaking from my personal observation and anecdotal comments from friends who also work in the educational field.
Our classrooms are collapsing . Our whole kinder team at our school was dismantled!!! Other classes at our school were collapsed ! We have two kinder classes with 25 kids so far, more registrations are coming in . We have very small classrooms can one toilet . No space to social distance !!!! Emotionally , this collapsing of classes has taken a toll on the educators. The expectations are not realistic . We have huge construction at our school , it’s a mess inside the school with wires hanging down , the signage is not out for social distancing. We will not have a nurse at our school . I spoke to custodian at our school , we will not gave extra custodians ! Our Principal is working so hard 24/7 to get it all done ….it’s not realistic FORD said no classes will be collapsed ! He said we would get what we need!!! Lies and mire lies !!!
So many inconsistencies across the Province. We just found out that our local school board, the Durham District School Board (public), will not give small class special education students who are opting for online learning, the same fulsome experience that mainstream students will receive who are opting for online learning. Specifically, mainstream online students will receive instruction from a dedicated online teacher, who will be virtually available throughout the instructional day. Meanwhile, small class special education teachers will be receiving limited virtual teaching interaction since for some unknown reason, DDSB is asking their in-person small class special education teachers to perform both in class and online instruction at the same time. This is not possible. Once again some of our most vulnerable students have been left to the side of the road. Perhaps a Human Rights complaint is in order.
The teachers and unions broke faith with the parents and students last year, with their work to rule campaign, lack of report cards, lack of extracurricular activities etc.. Their behaviour during the strike was abysmal; the assignements were provided sporadically, without any relationship to their previous curriculum and no support was provided. In the meantime, we had created a basic, rotating 2 day schedule for out kids with the 3 Rs, art yoga and gym complete with recess and lunch breaks scheduled.
While I would really like my kids to be back in the classroom this year, I am concerned that the teachers and the unions will deliberately thwart both the in-class and online programs for either political gain or extended paid vacations.
The Liberal MPPs shouldn’t bother to champion the cause of the unions; they fought with you for the 14 years you had power, and this won’t help the parents who are being bullied by the teachers and their leaders.
Jonathan I—Parent, Etobicoke
I’m worried. We’ve just spent 3 pd days in a gym with no ventillation. Social distancing was attempted but at a minimum. Tuesday our students arrive. They will be all arriving at the same time, lunch will be together… all 400 of them in the cafeteria. Many of our classrooms will be full to the brim. Our board tried to hire more custodians but no one applied. We’re still short many custodians. Our principal warned us that we will quickly run out of cleaning supplies, the staff immediately offered to buy their own. I get more worried by the second.
The teachers at our school were just notified that we will not be recieving latex gloves although we are expected to continually clean all ‘manipulatives’ each and every time a student touches something. Why are caretaking staff provided gloves, but not teaching staff?
My school, a grade 7 and 8 school, originally had 14 classes of students, 7 grade 7 and 7 grade 8. We had 17-20 students per class after students opted for online learning. We have now lost 4 classes, 2 grade 7 and 2 grade 8, and we now have classes of 28 to 30. There is no way to spread out the desks to give even 1m of distance between students. This is the reality, not Ford’s lies that no classes would be collapsed.
From a Teacher friend : I want to ask how to stay safe in a classroom of 20 6-7 year olds, with tables (no desks)? ‘Definitely nowhere near 2m physical distancing. Table diameters are 1 m.I am wondering if parents of enrolled students know this information?
How can the Ministry enforce maximizing classes during a Pandemic? We lost 11 teachers at our school, and most don’t know what they will be teaching yet.
How are planning time teachers going in and out of classrooms safe?
My sister has been a teacher for over 10 years in elementary schools in Toronto. Her school is recording under 60% attendance. Despite her time teaching, a number of teachers with higher seniority were hired in her school. These two factors may make her surplused and she is faced with a decision she has no information to make: Go virtual (where will she be teaching, how will she get there, how will she manage childcare if the location is at the other end of Toronto) or request to stay in class and be bumped out of her school, asked to travel likely to a far end of the city, and work with higher-risk communities while someone in our family in our bubble is immunocomprimized. There are so many unknowns how can you make a decision on your future on your health without knowing even the most basic things about your job like where will you be working, when and how to get there. I’m appalled and frustrated for her. Why is this something that is being decided less than a week before school starts. The Union, the school board, and the Province all should be answering for this incompetence, we have had months to prepare and you’re leaving people vulnerable and in chaos.
My mother and sister both work in elementary schools for TDSB. Although my mother is near retirement age, and therefore in a high-risk category, it is my sister, a grade 4/5 teacher, that I’m worried about. Her husband has Stage 4 Thyroid cancer, is on disability, and is dependent on my sister’s benefits to cover his extremely expensive cancer medication. She cannot risk getting sick and bringing the virus home to him or their 3-year old daughter who has been to Sick Kids twice in the past with pneumonia-like symptoms. The ideal situation would be for my sister to work from home, and teach online, as she was doing at the start of the pandemic. This way she can take care of her family in a safe environment, and not risk her benefits or pay.
Ford’s current plan for virtual learning is not acceptable. My sister cannot look after her 3-year old from a learning centre (another potential source of an outbreak), and she cannot risk putting her in daycare either. She cannot quit her job to keep her family safe from an outbreak, because she would lose her benefits and compromise her husband’s cancer treatment. It should not be necessary for teachers to risk their paycheck, their lives, or their family’s lives for any reason, especially if their circumstances are as dire as my sister’s situation. If there is anything that can be done to help her, please do.
Anonymous—Concerned citizen, Scarborough
We were just informed, 9 days before all students are set to be back in school, of the high likelihood of collapsed classes as a result of the number of students who’ve selected the online option. This will result in very many teachers moved around and bumped from their positions. Essentially the staffing processes needs to be completely restarted. This could take an upwards of 3 weeks to complete, and while the re-start date for school is not going to change, it does mean that many students will start school year in one class, with one teacher and are likely to end up with another, or several other teachers as teachers are shuffled around. This will have an impact on the mental health of all involved – students, teachers, parents, support staff, administrative staff… This is a sad time in a public education system that has risen to be one of the most highly regarded in the world.
Our school has lost staff due to restructuring to account for students opting for online learning. This means fewer teachers in the school, fewer classrooms and maximum student numbers in each class. Class sizes are NOT being reduced. In my middle school classroom, desks line the room from one side to the other, leaving no access to storage space and no distancing at the sinks.
Our classroom windows tilt open a few inches and there is no other ventilation. The HVAC system does not operate until the heat is on. There is no air conditioning. We have been told not to use fans.
The PPE we have been issued is of poor quality and is being meted out 10 masks at a time per week per staff member. The masks are not N95 masks, but are paper procedural masks. The face shields do not stay in place if you bend your head down. They slide off the back of your head and fall to the ground. Imagine the challenge for my colleagues in the younger grades.
I am terrified to go back, but I do not meet the criteria to stay away. I can’t afford an unpaid leave. So I will return to what I truly believe is an unsafe work environment. I only hope that WHEN a school outbreak occurs I will have done enough to protect myself and my family.
For the online schools the administration teams will be teaching the entire grade cohort (2000plus kids) for thirty minutes at the start of each day. No other teachers
I am an EA with special needs teenagers. I’m sad there are little supports to protect my students and myself. 8 students (Age 14-20) without masks will be in one room, with 5 staff who have level 1 mask only for an entire day. My students need support that does not allow 6 feet apart. They will touch each other, each other’s belongings. They will sneeze on me, they will spit on me, they will even rip my mask off.
Anonymous—Support staff, Brampton
The ministry and media are coming to White OAKS public school in London tomorrow. The school has been told to do a whole bunch of things to prepare for the ministries visit and for the media to record. Apparently they’re going to be showing some things that aren’t actually in the whole school. For example they’ll be showing soap dispensers which are only in the two rooms they’re recording and there are no sinks in the rooms to use the soap with. The dispensers were installed just for the media. They’re not in the rest of the school. And there is no hand sanitizer. That’s probably not all. I’ll let you know more after I see you what the ministry has to say on TV and radio after their visit.
We have been told by our administrator that there are not enough masks for us to have one every day; we are being encouraged to reuse our masks. This is NOT safe as I have read that medical masks are considered contaminated after four hours of use. In other boards they are being provided with two masks per day.
I’m terrified that the level of clean has not changed nor improved prior to our return. Attached is an adult washroom at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Scarborough. This is after several people pointed it out to Amin and it was « cleaned ». The walls , floor,sink and toile all look filthy. We saw the Cartaker go in to clean and this is how clean it got.
Is the money truly not there for deep clean or at least clean occasionally With assistance.
I’m afraid. Please give us a clean school and washroom. It’s like going into a gas station washroom.
Close to 30% of the students in my school opted for online learning causing a major reorganization. We lost 5 homerooms and 6 teachers were reassigned to the online school. Many of the in-school teachers’ assignments were changed. The class sizes vary by grade and program, but our junior/intermediate French immersion classes are sitting at 24-25 students. In my own class, I have 24 students in a portable. It is impossible to achieve a distance of 1m between desks in any classroom of more than 20 students. Our Health and Safety training consisted of a review of Covid-19 symptoms and how to wear PPE and wash hands. There was no new information shared regarding ventilation or any heightened protocols education workers could follow to reduce the risk. There is no clear plan for keeping cohorts separated other than the staggering of recesses. No strategies have been discussed or communicated to prevent the mixing of cohorts in washrooms, hallways, on busses and at aftercare. In my opinion, if it is safe to return to in-person classes, then online learning should not have been offered as an option. This option is draining much needed resources from our schools.