TORONTO — NDP Education critic Marit Stiles said Ontario's new COVID-19 guidelines for schools fall short, and won't keep students and education workers safe:
"Parents, students and education workers are eager for a return to in-person school without upheaval and disruption, and for kids to get back on track academically, socially and emotionally.
The Ford government's new COVID-19 guidelines for schools don't go nearly far enough to protect kids and staff or provide reassurance to families, especially amid rapidly rising cases and a highly contagious Delta variant.
While these guidelines recognize the effectiveness of vaccination, Ford's plan fails to make vaccines a requirement for teachers and education workers, fails to reduce class sizes so that students aren't packed dangerously into classrooms and fails to implement paid sick days for families of children presenting COVID-19 symptoms.
Without these crucial protections, we risk looking at another school year of outbreaks and disruptions.
The NDP will continue to push this government to invest in keeping schools safe, with a Safe September plan that includes:
- Smaller, safer class sizes
- Improved ventilation with clear standards, classroom inspections and public reporting
- Mental health supports
- Paid sick days and family care days for everyone, including parents so they can keep sick kids at home, and all education workers
- A proactive strategy to reach out to families to get students vaccinated. Horwath is also calling for all teachers and education workers to be vaccinated, and for the COVID-19 vaccine to be added to the existing vaccines list for students. For vaccines like the measles and chicken pox shots, parents already must show their child’s immunization record, or a signed exemption, to register for school."