Last-minute Ford government decisions continue to fail students, Catholic teachers say


Ford’s government must implement measures called for by education and public health experts for a safe and sustainable return to school

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TORONTO, January 3, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Ontario Association of English Catholic Teachers (OECTA) issued the following statement, in response to the announcement by the Ford government to extend the school closure period until at least January 17.

“Whether the government postpones the reopening of the school for two days or two weeks, today’s announcement will not significantly affect the health and safety of the school unless Ford’s government continues to ignore and finally act on critical measures taken by Catholic teachers, education experts and the public. health. demanding for almost two years, ”says OECTA President Barb Dobrowolski.

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“During the pandemic, the Ford government decided to wait and see COVID-19, and then struggled to make last-minute decisions that offered more than half the measures,” Dobrowolski said. “Today’s decision, which came just four days after their last ‘plan’ was announced, could have been avoided. This is another reactionary measure on a long list stemming from the abdication of the leadership of this government, which has repeatedly betrayed students, parents, teachers, educators and all Ontarians. ”

Ontario cannot afford to close schools again and disrupt learning.

“Ford’s government must use the extra time they have given themselves and act to provide the investment necessary for a safe learning environment so that students can enjoy the benefits of personal learning without further chaos and confusion,” Dobrowolski insists.

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For a safe and sustainable environment for learning and working in Ontario schools, as well as providing the highest level of protection to our students and communities, Catholic teachers are urging the Ford government to:

  • give priority to access to supplementary doses for all teachers and educators;
  • make additional rapid antigen tests available to everyone in schools;
  • re-establish case reporting and implement a comprehensive testing and monitoring program at COVID-19;
  • immediately provide N95 masks to all teachers and educators, as well as the best possible masks for all students, with improved guidelines to ensure harmonization of masking;
  • reduce class size to promote physical distance;
  • and improve ventilation and install HEPA filters in all classrooms and public spaces in schools, with publicly available air quality metrics and standards, in recognition and acceptance of the fact that the virus is transmitted by air.

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OECTA also believes that everyone who works in or attends school and is entitled to vaccination should be vaccinated. COVID-19 must be added to the list of designated diseases in the Ontario Regulation 261/13 on certain diseases according to Student Immunization Act (ISPA), which requires students to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and together with a strong public campaign to promote the importance of student vaccination.

“It was painful to watch our students suffer from recurrent learning disabilities in the classroom, which negatively affects their mental health and academic well-being,” says Dobrowolski. “Ford’s government must act now and invest the resources needed for safe and sustainable classroom learning.”

Michelle Despault OECTA 416-925-2493 x 509 m.despault@catholicteachers.ca 

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