Marit Stiles MPP, Davenport

Government of Ontario

Calling for a COVID safety plan, with one week left until kids return to classrooms

Published on January 5, 2021

QUEEN’S PARK — Not one action has been taken to prepare schools and classrooms for kids' safe return on Monday, said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles, who is calling for urgent action and investments to make kids safer.


 “If we want kids to start returning to classes in just one week, we need to make schools safer. That means action and investments, including a broad in-school asymptomatic testing program, and smaller class sizes so kids can physically distance better,” said Stiles.

“Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Doug Ford need to stop treating the problem of thousands of student, teacher and staff infections like a communications exercise, and start treating it like a public health concern.”
 
Over the weekend, Lecce released an open letter to desperate and worried parents, claiming that all teachers were given training to support the shift to remote learning, and that the ministry had provided a ‘comprehensive online learning platform’ – both claims are false. The letter included not a single new action to make schools safer for kids to return to.
 
“Students, their families and frontline teachers and education workers have shown incredible resiliency this year in the face of significant challenges. We owe it to them to learn from the past four months and deliver action and investments to make our children safer,” said Stiles. “Not just communications materials with platitudes and lies.”
 
The NDP is calling for:

  • A broad in-school asymptomatic testing program
  • A class size cap at 15, and school bus cap at 50 per cent capacity
  • Rapidly upgrading school ventilation 
  • Supports to address the learning gaps facing students who have been shifted between remote-learning and in-class learning, especially those with special needs
  • Partnership with education workers and school boards, which have often been left out of decision-making