TORONTO — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Education critic Marit Stiles are calling urgently for action to make schools safer by Monday — including reinstating COIVD testing and reporting of cases in schools
“We all want kids safely back in school on Monday,” said Horwath. “The wellbeing and mental health of so many kids is depending on it.
“Doug Ford has had a month to add safety measures while kids were out of school – but he didn’t, and now we’re down to the wire. In fact, he made it worse by denying testing and scrapping reporting. Parents, teachers and education workers are anxious that they won’t be told when they’ve been exposed to COVID right in their own classroom. If the NDP were the government today, we’d be moving mountains to protect kids from COVID when they go back to school on Monday, and to prevent them from being sent home again.”
Horwath said all students, teachers and staff should have access to PCR testing as well as regular rapid tests, and that information on COVID cases in schools should be reported so parents know what’s happening in their child’s school, and hotspots can be put out.
Stiles said reinstating testing and tracing should go alongside other improvements to make sure kids can stay in school until June.
“There are so many kids and so many families that simply can’t take another week of online school,” said Stiles. “It’s not Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce’s job to just unlock the school doors — it’s their job to make it safe. They need to do everything in their power to guarantee the success of school re-opening.
“The absolute worst-case scenario for kids would be for the government to refuse to make investments now, and risk more missed days of school."
Horwath, Stiles and the NDP have been calling for:
- A vaccine blitz for students with in-school vaccine clinics with permission from parents, and an outreach campaign including culturally-relevant outreach
- Mandatory vaccination for all teachers and education workers
- Reduced class sizes and school busloads
- Free rapid tests for all students, teachers and education staff
- Access to PCR tests again
- Reporting of COVID cases in schools
- Improved ventilation in all schools and regular on-site air quality testing
- Free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers
- Support for teachers and staff to help address critical learning gaps caused by previous shutdowns