QUEEN'S PARK — MPP Peggy Sattler (London West) says Doug Ford’s refusal to listen to parents and public health experts on the need for smaller, safer class sizes is putting students at risk in London’s schools.
An additional 1,000 Thames Valley District School Board students will begin learning from home this week, after making the switch from in-class instruction to virtual learning, forcing the school board to collapse classes due to Doug Ford’s failure to spend the money needed to protect students and educators.
With 35 active cases at schools in in the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Sattler said during question period in the Ontario legislature that "the decision by parents to keep kids at home is completely understandable, but the collapse of classrooms and reassignment of staff is causing major disruption, chaos and upheaval across the system."
“It is also, as noted by school board director Mark Fisher, not ‘in the best interest of either staff or students’. Will the premier admit that his refusal to follow the advice of experts for the safe reopening of schools, and to fund smaller classrooms, has put the well-being of students at risk?,” asked Sattler.
Sattler shared the concerns of local parents of children in a kindergarten at Byron Southwood Public School that’s being collapsed, which means a much-loved ECE is being reassigned to online after nine years in the classroom, and eight new students are joining the class.
Parent Andrea Henning wrote: “It is not the year to be enforcing the changing ratios in the classroom. Please prioritize the safety of the children going to school in person.” Another parent Marsi Breemhaar wrote: “How are [the children] supposed to social distance with more kids in the class?”, and Tonia Siemon, also a parent of a child in the class, wrote: “Children from age 3-5 struggle to grasp the significance and concept of social distancing; adding more bodies into the classroom makes this even more of an impossible task.”
“Why is the safety of kindergarten students at Byron Southwood, and in collapsed classrooms across the province, not a priority for this government,” Sattler asked Ford.
Back in July, Andrea Horwath presented an emergency action plan for full, safe return to school in September, including a cap of 15 students to a class across the province. When Horwath put forward a motion in the legislature to introduce a limit of 15 per class to protect students and educators, Doug Ford and his government MPPs all voted against the proposal.