Lisa Gretzky MPP, for Windsor West

Government of Ontario

Gretzky urges immediate action from the Ford government in wake of Begley elementary school outbreak

Published on November 24, 2020

QUEEN’s PARK – On Tuesday Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky directly questioned Education Minister Stephen Lecce about the COVID-19 outbreak at the F.W. Begley Public School, and took the minister to task over the Ford government’s failure to proactively keep students and education workers safe. 
“Thirty-nine students and staff members at Begley elementary school in Windsor have tested positive for COVID-19, with an additional two probable cases,” said Gretzky during question period at the Ontario legislature Tuesday. “This devastating news has disrupted the education of hundreds of students and the livelihoods of their parents, who are now forced to stay home to facilitate their learning. The health and wellbeing of families and education workers is at risk.”
Gretzky says the Ford government has failed to provide the funding and resources that schools in Windsor and across Ontario need to keep students and education workers safe in classrooms. The Financial Accountability Officer has reported that the province is currently sitting on $9.3 billion in unallocated COVID relief funding – funding which the NDP say can and should be used to increase protections in schools. 
“Local teachers report they are not aware of a single classroom at Begley from grade 4 to 8 that is capped at 15 students, said Gretzky, “Physical distancing is impossible and cohorting is haphazard. The Ford government’s refusal to listen to experts is causing serious harm in our schools and our community.” 
While the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit acted quickly to address the outbreak, Gretzky says that the Ford government has failed in their obligation to proactively protect students and staff, and to ensure safe access to education is a top priority. 
“I am concerned about the huge burden this school outbreak and closure has placed on families, many of whom are low-income and cannot afford to miss work, or who are newcomers and may not be able to fully facilitate learning at home.” 
“Will the premier finally do what parents, education workers, and experts have all been pleading for – 
will he cap class sizes and implement the screening, testing and tracing needed so that parents can work and kids can learn safely in Windsor and across Ontario?,” asked Gretzky.

Video of Gretzky's questions to Minister Lecce