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Educators, parents surmounting challenges in the wake of Ford government’s hasty and underfunded return to school plan

September 24, 2020

Toronto, ON – The Ford Government continues to misrepresent the conditions in classrooms across Ontario as educators and parents are working hard to make the return to school work despite ill-planning and underfunding by the government.

“Yesterday, Premier Ford said that class sizes in lower grades in areas considered COVID-19 hotspots (including Ottawa, Peel and Toronto) are capped at 15 students. This is absolutely not true. We are seeing class sizes that are very different than we would normally expect, with the vast majority being significantly higher that the recommended 15 students,” said Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

“Educators and parents are doing incredible work to ensure that students have the tools and resources they need for online learning under extremely challenging conditions.”
 
“This is happening because Premier Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce gave so little time and insufficient funding for school boards to plan the return to school. Between June and September, the Education Ministry gave three different directions to school boards, and downloaded the responsibility to them with only three weeks left before the start of school.”

“Issues like large class sizes, a rapid uptake in distance learning and new tech platforms for students learning at home are stretching the capacity of both parents and educators to ensure students get the education they need. A lack of sufficient funding for more teachers has continued to cause wild fluctuation in the make-up and size of classes in many cases,” added Hammond.
With conditions varying among school boards, many educators were given assignments at the last minute, leaving a very short time to prepare lesson plans for in-class or distance learning. For parents, many of the tech platforms for learning at home have changed since the spring, requiring a sharp learning curve on their part.

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