August 26th, 2020
August 26th, 2020
BRANTFORD – On Wednesday morning at Lansdowne-Costain Public School in Brantford, Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath stood with two local parents who are wrestling with the impossible decision left to them by Doug Ford’s reckless back-to-school scheme.
While each parent made a different choice about whether they would send their kids back into classrooms this fall, neither of them felt comfortable or happy with the choice they were forced to make.
“Mr. Ford’s refusal to step up and do the right things has put parents across the province in a situation where there are no good choices,” said Horwath. “On the one hand, folks can send their kids into packed classrooms, where physical distancing will often be impossible, knowing it will put their kids, and older or immuno-compromised loved ones at even more risk.
“Or they can choose to keep their children at home, and continue the superhuman juggling act they’ve been doing for months, knowing continued social isolation could have harmful effects on kids’ mental health and wellbeing.”
Horwath also noted that Ford has left many Ontario parents with no choice at all, because they need to send kids back to school in order to be able to work, pay the bills and provide for their families.
“Mr. Ford’s priorities are clearly backwards,” added Horwath. “He would rather spend money on a PR campaign to sell his bargain basement back-to-school scheme, than invest in ensuring school boards, schools and educators have supports they need for smaller safer classes in the fall.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. If I were premier, I would be hiring more teachers and education workers – including bus drivers custodians, and educational assistants — and securing more spaces for physically distanced classrooms. And I would make sure that in the interim, parents have the child care options and extra income supports they need to stay home, if they need to.”
Garnet Smith, Parent
“As a mother of two in grades 3 and SK I am naturally concerned for my children’s mental health and well-being. Although I know measures are being taken to protect my children as they return to class, I wonder if it will be enough. I fear that with the standard class size, the potential for my children to be exposed has increased unnecessarily and expands their ‘social bubble’ to numbers beyond our individual control — our social bubble which we have all tried to minimize since March.”
Ed House, Parent and Secondary School Teacher GEDSB
“As a parent of two daughters attending elementary school, I don’t want to have to choose between in-school education and the safety of my children…I want both and if that means adjustments to the plan to return to school, then that is what parents need to demand now. What level of engagement can we expect from kids who will spend as much time trying to distance themselves from others, as they will spend time attempting to focus on a learning opportunity? As a teacher, I want to be able to offer your children a safe environment to learn. I feel sick to hear that this “plan” is what our own government deems as the best possible action. I have not spoken to one parent or teacher who believes that this plan could not be improved with smaller class sizes. I am disappointed. I expect proactive leadership at this time, not a government that puts out fires after they ignite.”