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A message from ETFO President Karen Brown

December 30, 2021

Again, Ontarians were left waiting until the last minute to hear from the Ford government on what additional measures would be implemented to ensure students and education workers could return safely to in-person learning. And again, after hearing their inadequate plan, we are left feeling deflated, disappointed and genuinely concerned for the safety of our members, students and their families. 


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has demanded that the Ford government invest in every infection prevention and control measure available to keep schools open to in-person learning, both safely and sustainably, because we know it is the best way for students to learn and it is critical to their mental health. 


To safely return to in-person learning, and to provide the greatest level of protection to Ontario’s students, teachers, other education workers, and communities:


  • N95s must be available to all education workers;
  • everyone working in, or attending a school or campus who is eligible and can be vaccinated safely, should be vaccinated;
  • access to booster shots should be prioritized for education workers;
  • HEPA filters should be installed in all classrooms and public/shared spaces in schools; 
  • Rapid Antigen Tests must be provided to students and education workers; and
  • the Ford government must expand the paid sick leave program immediately. 

Are we confident these measures will all be in place by January 5? Given the Ford government’s track record, no. If a few extra days are required to make this a reality so that in-person learning can continue undisrupted for the remainder of the school year, let’s spend that time working together. Without the addition of these new layers of protection, we are not confident that safe in-person learning can be sustained in January and beyond, especially in the face of Omicron.


I want every ETFO member to know that we see you, we hear you, and we understand the challenges today’s announcement presents. We will continue to do everything we can to stand against a government that repeatedly fails to prioritize education, students and education workers. Your safety and well-being are of great importance to us.