TORONTO, ON – SickKids’ recommendations to open up Ontario schools validate the approach used in Steven Del Duca’s Students in Schools Action Plan. The Ontario Liberal Plan calls for 14,000 new classroom locations, the hiring of 17,000 additional educators and 10,000 additional caretakers. These measures enable safe, physically-distanced learning, which is the first step in getting students back in classrooms, parents back to work and reopening the economy.
“Parents across Ontario have been waiting anxiously for some kind of a plan so they can make decisions about the most important things in their lives – their kids, their jobs, and their livelihood,” said Steven Del Duca, leader of the Ontario Liberal Party.
“The serious delays, inconsistent and confusing communications, and absence of collaboration from Doug Ford’s government have caused undue stress and uncertainty. We decided to fill that void by meeting with School Boards, teachers, parents, education workers, health organizations, and leaders in health, to fuel the details of our Plan.”
The SickKids’ report makes clear a proper plan must include:
Small Class Sizes
Significant amount of new caretakers (custodians and cleaning staff)
Adequate amount of PPE
Daily learning at school
SickKids said: “Smaller class sizes should be a priority strategy as it will aid in physical distancing and reduce potential spread from any index case [first case]. Several jurisdictions have reopened schools with maximum class sizes ranging from 10-15.” (page 10)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: A maximum of 15 students per classroom for elementary.
SickKids said: “In our view, a daily school model is best as it allows for consistency, stability and equity regardless of the region in which children live.” (page 21)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: A safe and full-day school model for all of Ontario.
SickKids said: “The ability of the public school system to effectively carry out its mission will depend in part on the resources made available to the schools. Personnel considerations include the potential need for trained screeners at school entry, health-care providers working with the schools (e.g. telephone or virtual support, on-site support), additional custodian and cleaning staff, and an expanded number of teachers, guidance counsellors, social workers, psychologists and support teachers.” (page 3)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: 10,000 additional custodians and cleaning staff, 17,000 additional teachers, 1,500 special education professionals, 1,000 more mental health professionals.
SickKids said: ”The ability of the public school system to effectively carry out its mission will depend in part on the resources made available to the schools… Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene supplies (soap and hand sanitizer). In particular, bus drivers and transportation to school is an important consideration that will need detailed recommendations, including bus scheduling options, addressing bus capacity, and other safe operational considerations. Learning materials will be needed as well. Addressing structural deficiencies, such as large class sizes, small classrooms and poor ventilation, must be part of any plan to reopen schools.” (page 3)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: $110 million for the procurement of PPE, 14,000 additional classrooms to keep class sizes capped at 15 for elementary students.
SickKids said: “In particular, bus drivers and transportation to school is an important consideration that will need detailed recommendations, including bus scheduling options, addressing bus capacity, and other safe operational considerations.” (page 21)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: Calls for regular cleaning of school buses, retrofits and staggered starts where needed.
SickKids said: “Accessible mental health support services adapted for diverse groups and at-risk populations should be provided, ideally in collaboration with educators, mental health professionals, and paediatricians.” (page 17)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: Reverse PC cuts and hire 1,000 more mental health professionals.
SickKids said: “Emerging evidence indicates that the social and economic burden of COVID-19 disproportionately impacts racialized communities and those with less wealth. Distance learning further disadvantages children and youth living in higher-burden COVID-19 areas where socioeconomic and language barriers limit access to quality online learning. The effect on these children’s and youth’s education has already been substantial and further delays of return-to-school will almost certainly compound educational disparities.” (page 6)
Ontario Liberals’ Students in Schools Action Plan: 2,000 more secondary teachers to ensure all students can reach their full potential.
“Since the government hasn’t unveiled a plan for the fall, I did,” said Steven Del Duca. “Doug Ford should have made this a priority months ago by meaningfully consulting with School Boards, teachers, education workers, principals, students and parents. He has not.
“Yesterday’s report from SickKids confirms that the Ontario Liberal plan provides a strong roadmap that the government should follow.”
“We will be watching closely to see if the Ford education plan deserves a passing grade,” concluded Del Duca. “We cannot afford to get it wrong.” concluded Del Duca.
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