The following open letter was sent by ETT, OSSTF Toronto, and Toronto Education workers on August 5, 2020 to TDSB Trustees and Interim Director Carlene Jackson, calling on the Board to take full responsibility for a safe school reopening in September.
Dear TDSB Trustees and Director Jackson,
Yesterday, Doug Ford abdicated political responsibility for the reopening of schools in a healthy and safe manner when he intoned that “it’s not my plan”, while laying responsibility for its woeful lack of consideration for the basic recommendations made by Sick Kids in their most recent school reopening report at the feet of some faceless nameless group of experts.
Over the course of the school closure period this government has steadfastly claimed to rely on the medical expertise – that which it chooses to listen to, but never to identify – but has equally as steadfastly ignored the other experts in the room when it comes to school reopening – education workers and parents.
We recognize the importance of the education system to the current economy, and the mental health and well being of students. We also know that unless parents, students, teachers and education workers have confidence in the reopening plan, the other two priorities will suffer.
We are writing you today to implore you to take full responsibility for a safe school reopening in September, that includes but is not limited to:
- Reduced class size for all grades to cohorts of 15;
- Mandatory masks for all staff and students;
- Safe professional working spaces for all teachers and education workers;
- Teaching/learning schedules that prioritize face-to-face learning with asynchronous and synchronous learning as supplementary modes, as needed;
- Proper PPE for all and
- Funding that ensures the appropriate staffing, and additional health and safety modifications that are required to keep students and staff safe at work, are available.
Do not abdicate your responsibility like Doug Ford has, blaming shortfalls in your own plan on the Ministry of Education. If ever there was a time to stand up to this government that puts its own bottom line ahead of everything else, it is now, when the very health and safety of the students and staff in your charge are at risk.
Jennifer Brown, President, Elementary Teachers of Toronto
Leslie Wolfe, President OSSTF Toronto Teachers, (pronouns she/her)
John Weatherup, President, Toronto Education Workers
Kimberly Perry, President, OSSTF Toronto Professional Student Support Personnel
Paul Bocking, Vice-President/Chief Negotiator, OSSTF Toronto Occasional Teachers’ Bargaining Unit