August 7, 2020
Toronto, ON – Conservative Premier Doug Ford and his education minister are misleading the public into thinking that the issue of class size in public elementary schools has been addressed, according to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
“Despite the rhetoric, the government has ignored medical advice on the need for smaller classes of 15 students, and provided only enough funding ($30 million) to maintain class size averages of 24.5 students in grades 4-8,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “I ask this question of the premier and minister – Will the government revise its return to school plan? Yes or no?”
“With the current plan, students will be returning to crowded classrooms without the possibility for the physical distancing that parents, education stakeholders and public health advocates have been asking for.”
The Toronto Board of Health expressed concerns about the current class sizes and recommended that the plan be revisited to include smaller class sizes that will allow for proper physical distancing and meet current public health requirements.
“While Minister Lecce said today that school boards can reduce class sizes by spending from their reserves, not every board has the reserves to do that. The government knows that class size is a problem, but refuses to make the necessary investment to ensure that every child in the province is safe.”
The government’s plan has ignored the fact that the Sick Kids Hospital report, COVID-19: Guidance for School Reopening specifically called for smaller class sizes so that physical distancing can be maintained.
“This government’s attitude is “let’s wait and see if the plan works,” added Hammond. “That’s not good enough when we are talking about the safety and health of students and educators. The only way to reduce class sizes to 15 students is to provide sufficient funding for the hiring of additional educators, additional space for classrooms and improved building ventilation to comply with recommended standards. This is urgent and we need the government to fix its plan while there is still time.”
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, email@example.com @etfomedia