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ETFO makes recommendations to Ministry of Education for a safe return to school

June 18, 2020

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has submitted 40 recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Education to help ensure health and safety and quality learning in plans for school reopening. The submission can be viewed at etfo.ca/link/reopening.

ETFO is recommending flexibility with curriculum and assessment to provide for a longer period of adjustment as schools reopen. Additional funding will be needed by school boards for personal protective equipment for staff and to meet COVID-19 public health measures including social distancing, handwashing, deep cleaning of schools and safe transportation.

“This spring, the disparity in accessing learning resources has deepened inequities and had an impact on student learning outcomes,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “That’s going to carry over to the 2020-21 school year. There’s going to be a longer than normal transition period at the beginning of the year.”

To deal with inequities, ETFO is recommending that school boards address accessibility concerns in their plan to reopen schools and that additional temporary funding be allocated for special education programs and support.

“The health and safety of students, educators, staff and their respective families must be the overriding principle when deciding when and how schools reopen. The advice and input from public health experts need to continue to inform any decisions regarding how public education will operate over the summer and in the coming school year,” added Hammond.

While ETFO appreciates the creation of the various working tables by the Ministry of Education, drafts or updates of guidelines for reopening schools should be shared for feedback by stakeholders before they are announced.

“The challenges as schools prepare to reopen will vary from one community to the next. We’re recommending that the Ministry provide broad guidelines and principles so that school boards, in consultation with local unions, can create plans that fit their local circumstances,” said Hammond.
 
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.

For more information, contact:
Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations, CELL: 416-948-0195, vdugale@etfo.org  @etfomedia