April 6th, 2021

Make Waterloo Region schools safer to return to post-break: Horwath to Ford

Vaccinate staff, cap class sizes, proposes Horwath

CAMBRIDGE — With COVID-19 cases being reported at dozens of Waterloo Region schools, Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in Cambridge virtually Tuesday to call on the Ford government to make classrooms safer so students can return after the April break.

As of April 6, there were 45 recent school-related cases in the Waterloo Region, affecting 12 schools in Cambridge, 11 schools in Kitchener, and four schools in Waterloo. All schools have been closed in the regions of Peel and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

“Parents, teachers and education workers are anxious. They’re on edge, worried about their kids’ safety on crowded school buses and in jam-packed classrooms as variants of concern spread more easily and cause more harm,” said Horwath. “They need more help to stay safe, and to avoid forcing even more schools from having to close down again.

“Doug Ford walked us into a third wave and lockdown, and he’s jeopardizing in-school learning by refusing to spend the money to make schools safer. Instead of investing in education, he’s going right back to cutting and squeezing with his latest budget — just when students and families and educators need support the most.”

Horwath is calling for teachers and education workers to be vaccinated urgently. Ford’s Conservatives have repeatedly voted against NDP proposals for class sizes to be capped at 15 students, for air quality improvements; for comprehensive in-school COVID-19 testing; and for upgrades like touchless faucets.

“If I were premier right now, I’d urgently make the investments needed so students and staff can come back from spring break to classrooms that are safe.”


Marjorie Knight, NDP candidate for Cambridge
“Imagine sending your child to school on Monday for their first day of JK, only to receive a letter on Wednesday warning of close contact and quarantine for the entire family. Our community desperately wants to send their children to school but they need the schools to be safe starting with smaller class sizes, and proper ventilation. Parents are anxious, they want to send their children to school, they need safe schools.”

Jeff Pelich, VP of ETFO Waterloo
“Doug Ford’s government has been disingenuous around the ‘layers of protection” in our schools. Since returning to school in September, physical distancing in classrooms has been impossible. Asymptomatic testing of students is inaccessible and fails to meet the 2% of students per week requirement. All the while, frontline education workers are waiting to be vaccinated, a step that would ensure schools remain open during the pandemic. This government must recognize that schools are not as safe as they proclaim and take the necessary steps to protect our students and staff.”

Marit Stiles, NDP Education critic
“We have heard from thousands of parents, education workers and students across Ontario over the last year, and they have been sounding the alarm about the need for safer schools. We still haven’t seen the kinds of actions that could make a real difference – like smaller class sizes – and people feel let down by this government. And we’re seeing the consequences yet again: more closures affecting more and more schools.”