LONDON – MPPs Terence Kernaghan (London North Centre), Teresa Armstrong (London-Fanshawe) and Peggy Sattler (London West) released the following statement on reports that only 25 to 30 per cent of Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) classrooms have HEPA filters, and that families are now fundraising so that the board can purchase more:
“We’re only days away from thousands of students returning to in-person learning here in London. While we all want kids back in school Monday, families are anxious because they know that the government has not done enough to make schools safe. It is shocking to learn that less than a third of classrooms in London’s public school board have received the HEPA filters that the government promised. Students and education workers deserve better.
Families are so worried about the safety of their children in the classroom, some have been working with TVDSB trustees to fundraise to buy HEPA filters. We commend these families for their initiative, but they should not be forced to pick up the slack and fill the gaps in school safety left by the Ministry of Education.
The government must make sure schools are safe for students. That means fulfilling promises to improve ventilation and provide HEPA filters to all classrooms in London schools. It also means ensuring that all students can get vaccinated, reducing class sizes, providing access to testing, reporting classroom COVID information, and other actions that families and public health experts have been calling for.”
The government announced that it would be deploying additional 3,000 HEPA filters in school, TVDSB will only receive 89 of them. TVDSB has identified at least 350 priority classrooms still in need of HEPA filters.
We are calling for:
- A vaccine blitz for students with in-school vaccine clinics with permission from parents, and an outreach campaign including culturally-relevant outreach
- Mandatory vaccination for all teachers and education workers
- Reduced class sizes and school busloads
- Free rapid tests for all students, teachers and education staff
- Access to PCR tests again
- Reporting of COVID cases in schools
- Improved ventilation in all schools and regular on-site air quality testing
- Free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers
- Support for teachers and staff to help address critical learning gaps caused by previous shutdowns