Students, parents and educators are counting on the Ford Conservative government to provide more funding than it has allocated to ensure there is a safe and effective re-opening of schools this fall.
“It is unconscionable that the government would tell school boards to plan for a return to school without providing sufficient emergency funding,” said Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). “Regardless of whether it’s a full-time return or a hybrid of in-class and distance learning, we’re asking parents and others to email their MPPs to outline why more funding is necessary.”
Along with funding to cover additional staffing, deep cleaning of schools, personal protective equipment, handwashing facilities and other items to keep students and staff safe, ETFO says that ensuring smaller class sizes this fall so that schools can adhere to social distancing requirements will all require additional funding.
“Smaller classes can only happen if more teachers are hired and more space is provided for schools to offer in-class sessions. If the hybrid approach, combining in-class and distance learning, is adopted by school boards, there needs to be additional educators hired to handle the workload. Teachers can’t be in two places at once,” added Hammond.
Ontarians are nearly twice as likely to agree that spending on public education is more important than eliminating the deficit, according to a study released today by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA).
In another survey recently conducted by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, 79 per cent of Ontario teachers believe that the loss of support staff and educational assistants negatively impacted their students’ ability to learn.
“The fall-out of the pandemic for students has been significant, particularly for those with unique learning needs. Our public elementary schools need additional educational assistants, psychologists, behavioural therapists, school support counsellors and speech-language pathologists,” said Hammond.
ETFO’s call to action to parents to write their MPPs can be viewed at https://www.
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at www.BuildingBetterSchools.