WINDSOR – NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West) is urging the Ford government to finally produce a plan for the safe return to school. While Doug Ford and his Education Minister sit on their hands, parents, students and educators in Windsor continue to be left waiting without any clarity on what to expect in September.
“When in-school education was paused in the spring due to the pandemic, educators, students and parents were forced to adapt to remote learning, and it was an incredibly difficult and stressful time,” said Gretzky. “Yet with only five weeks until the start of the school year, Doug Ford and his government have failed to provide the plan and funding needed to ensure kids can return to schools and in a safe and supportive way.”
Earlier this month the Official Opposition NDP has set out a detailed emergency action plan to get kids back to class including steps like hiring more educators to allow for smaller class sizes, and funding for extra supports for students who are struggling or have special needs and for school upgrades that will help with infection control.
Gretzky was joined at a press conference Wednesday by Mario Spagnuolo, President of Greater Essex ETFO and Erin Roy, President of OSSTF District 9, to outline the supports that Windsor’s schools needs from the provincial government in order to safely get students back in class five days a week.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk from Premier Ford and Minister Lecce about re-opening schools, but families and educators need more than talk without details, they need a solid plan with proper funding to keep everyone safe in September” said Gretzky.
Measures outlined in the NDP’s emergency action plan include:
- Putting enough teachers, education workers and alternative classrooms in place for all students to return to school five days a week, with smaller class sizes, in safe classrooms;
- Paid sick leave and parental leave in any modified return;
- Immediate funding to stabilize the child care sector to prevent fee increases and layoffs;
- Increased funding for teacher hiring, bussing, school repairs and cleaning;
- Addressing the needs of students from Black, Indigenous and racialized communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19;
- Real collaboration with frontline education workers, students, parents and school boards through a COVID-19 recovery school advisory group.
“Parents, students, and educators deserve to know if the province will provide emergency funding right now to school boards right now, to put that in place so they can be ready for September. Enough is enough, the community here in Windsor cannot afford to wait any longer after weeks of uncertainty and delays,” added Gretzky.
Mario Spagnuolo, President of Greater Essex ETFO
“With September around the corner, and the possibility of schools re-opening, educators, students, and families are waiting for a government plan that is appropriately funded and puts the safety of all individuals first. So far, there are more questions than answers and this is not acceptable. Without more funding, elementary teachers are left wondering how class sizes will be capped at the 15 cohort, how students will have access to hand washing facilities, and how classrooms will receive enhanced cleaning and disinfection.”
Erin Roy, President of OSSTF District 9
“The safe return of staff and students to schools should be a main priority. The PC government has not been clear and continually change direction via the media. This is unfair to those that are in the planning stages and compromises the ability to focus on priorities for a safe return. OSSTF is asking the government to properly fund the education system to prepare for a safe return to schools by hiring more staff and allocating funding for PPE and enhanced safety measures.”