ETFO Media Release: Ford Government’s Failure to Contain COVID-19 Results in Need to Extend Remote Learning

The following ETFO media release was posted on January 7, 2021.

As a result of the Ford government’s failure to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario, we are at the height of a pandemic that has surged out of control. This has resulted in yet another last-minute decision, one that extends remote learning in many areas of the province, and again leaves families and educators scrambling to plan.

“With COVID-19 numbers at an all-time high and the introduction of a new, more transmissible strain of the virus, our first priority must be to protect the health and safety of students and educators, and by extension, the communities in which we teach. Due to the government’s mishandling of the pandemic, the safety of students and educators can simply not be guaranteed in much of the province,” said Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

ETFO’s position on in-person learning remains unchanged. “We firmly believe that in-person instruction in publicly-funded schools provides the best experience for learning, quality delivery, and is the most equitable model for all students. We know that educators are eager to be back with their students in their classrooms,” noted Hammond.

ETFO recognizes that shutting down in-person learning adds extra pressure on families and educators, particularly those who have school-age children. “We will continue to press the government to provide funding to support all families, and to account for the childcare needs of educators and other front-line workers,” added Hammond.

“We also call on the government to take this extra time to immediately implement the necessary measures to ensure a safe return to in-person learning is possible. This includes reducing class sizes to ensure physical distancing can be maintained, improving ventilation, deploying HEPA filters and CO2 monitors to every classroom in the province, making masks mandatory for all students and introducing broad, school based asymptomatic testing.”

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