QUEEN'S PARK — Ontario NDP Education critic Marit Stiles said Doug Ford must urgently implement measures to prevent further shutdowns of Ontario schools amid rising COVID cases and the alarming transmissibility of Omicron.
"As Ontario schools break today for the holidays, parents, kids and education workers are rightfully afraid they won't be returning to in-person school as they should after New Year's," Stiles said. "Doug Ford is sleepwalking us into a scary Omicron wave and continues to scrimp on vital measures to shield students from further school shutdowns.
"We must do everything possible to keep schools open — our children's mental, emotional, and academic well-being depends on it."
The Ontario NDP is urging the Ford government to immediately take the following actions to prevent school shutdowns:
- Free rapid tests for all teachers and education staff to take home over the holidays
- Free rapid tests for all students and education workers to continue taking after the holidays
- A vaccine blitz for students, including the 5-11 cohort, with in-school vaccine clinics with permission from parents
- A robust outreach campaign to parents to encourage vaccination for students between now and Jan. 3, including culturally relevant outreach applicable to different communities
- Mandatory vaccination for all teachers and education workers
- Reduced class sizes and school busloads, to begin Jan. 3
- Guaranteed improved ventilation in all schools
- Free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers
- Support for teachers and staff to help address critical learning gaps caused by previous shutdowns