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Restaurants, grocery stores and gyms will have more safety restrictions than public elementary schools in September

July 30, 2020
 
Toronto, ON – While educators want to be back with their students this fall, the government’s plan for a return to school falls far short of ensuring the safety of public elementary students and educators.
 
“Schools are supposed to be safe places for children. This plan does not adequately address the safety of students or staff,” said Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). “Restaurants, grocery stores and gyms will have more safety restrictions in place than elementary schools given the insufficient funding allocated in this plan.”
 
“The successful advocacy and organizing of parents, educators and others has forced the government to add some additional investment to the reopening of schools in September. While it’s a step in the right direction, the funding to support the plan falls far short of what schools need to keep students and educators safe in September.” 
 
ETFO is concerned that the government is not reducing elementary class sizes to allow for two-metre physical distancing, nor requiring students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 to wear masks.
 
“Two-metre physical distancing and mask wearing have been required for indoor activities across the province. COVID-19 does not distinguish between a grocery store and a classroom, between a coffee shop or school hallways.”
 
“Kindergarten to Grade 3 students are more active and have less self-regulation and this will make physical distancing more difficult. That’s why smaller classes and mask requirements for all students are necessary to ensure the safety and health of everyone in elementary schools,” added Hammond.
 
“The government must provide the funding necessary to allow for appropriate physical distancing in schools and ensure that all the required measures and supports are in place.”
 
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