OSHAWA — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says it’s wrong of Doug Ford to put the onus for making schools safe on children, teachers and education workers when he’s putting them into crowded classrooms. Parents and educators say small classes with lots of caring adults are required to make sure kids are practicing good infection control.
“How can a teacher help each little one wash their hands properly if there are nearly 30 kids in the class?” Horwath asked. “How can we expect kids not to share pencils or trade lunches when their desks are only a foot or two apart? How can we expect school bus drivers to ensure 70 kids keep their masks on, when they’re supposed to be keeping their eyes on the road?”
Horwath was in Oshawa Monday morning to call for smaller, safer classes as fresh concerns emerge about Doug Ford’s risky back-to-school scheme. Last week, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said Ford’s back to school scheme relies on students and staff following strict infection control protocols, without fail.
“Asking kids to practice these new behaviors with lots of support and supervision would be tough. Asking them to do it in crowded classrooms and hallways with one teacher supervising 30 students is a recipe for disaster,” said Horwath. “Kids need small class sizes and lots of guidance from caring adults to get this right.
“If I were premier, I would be capping class sizes so every child has the support and supervision they need, in a physically-distanced classroom.”
Kristy Micklewright, Parent
“I am a single mother of a five-year-old daughter going into senior kindergarten here in Oshawa. There is one week before school starts, and I have no knowledge of what the classroom will look like in terms of shared resources and surfaces or how a play-based model of education will be carried out while keeping hygiene protocols in place. For example, how will the hand hygiene of the entire class be carried out considering my five-year-old needs to be supervised to ensure it is done effectively and there is one shared sink? My daughter’s health and safety is worth the effort and I expected a more timely and innovative plan from the provincial government that put more value on the safety of my child.”
Gabrielle Edey, Parent and Teacher
“It will be physically impossible to socially distance full classrooms in the next coming weeks. This will directly affect the success of this back to school plan. It doesn’t have to be this way. As a parent, as a teacher – I really expected more from our leaders, not one that puts our children in harm’s way.”