Parents and education workers from across Ontario are protesting in front of MPP offices demanding a safe return to schools.
As Ontario entered Stage 3, many voiced their displeasure with the Province’s priorities, citing the fact bars would be permitted to reopen while schools remain in limbo as a problem.
Protests are scheduled for July 28 at 122 MPP offices from all over Ontario, during which families, education workers, and community members will be demanding full funding and real solutions to ensure a safe and equitable return to school.
“We know from the costing report released by the TDSB that the funding needed for a safe and equitable full-time return is more than $8 per day per child, a far cry from the 7 cents/day that the government has allotted.” Rachel Huot, of the Ontario Parent Action Network, said in a news release.
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“We reject this austerity framework that will lead to inferior learning and unsafe conditions for children and staff. We need our government to step up and properly confront the largest public health and education crisis of our time,” she continued.
Demands include fully-funded five-day in-class learning with classes of no more than 15 students; funded, safe before- and after-school child care options; safe buildings, including funding for more custodians, PPE, cleaning supplies, and infrastructure repairs such as ventilation, sinks, and water bottle filling stations; funding for food and well-being programs, including free food programs and a public health nurse for every school to support a plan to respond to COVID-19 symptoms at school in a manner which is both responsive and respectful of the children; funding for student support, including for increased social and learning supports for students and families such as educational assistants, social workers, and child and youth workers; and more.
“We need a plan that puts children first: hire more teachers, support staff, and caretakers; re-open schools that have been closed down, and rent or repurpose other spaces to create more classrooms and outdoor spaces,” David Mandelzys, a public high school teacher and parent who organizes with the group Ontario Education Workers United, said in the same release.
“Provide the required PPE that will help maintain safety; be ready with funding for those students who will be coming in hungry and traumatized; and make sure safe school reopenings are prioritized over non-essential economic reopenings,” he continued.