Dear Minister Lecce,
Across the GTA families are worried about a return to back to school. Enrollment in my riding of Scarborough-Guildwood has fallen sharply in neighbourhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. Families know that Scarborough is a COVID hotspot and where there is community spread, COVID-19 will eventually enter schools. More funding is needed to support boards in COVID-19 hotspots to ensure students receive equitable education, whether they are in classrooms or learning online.
I am requesting that as we continue the process of re-opening, you prioritize schools in hot spots areas like Scarborough with new funding for schools in high risk areas. These areas need adequate resources for students learning from home who do not have access to the same tools and opportunities as their peers. Furthermore, schools with sharp declines in enrollment need additional resources to ensure that classes are appropriately structured and equipped to provide a quality education for students returning to classrooms.
As the TDSB and TCDSB are finalizing their staffing assignments, families are concerned that schools with low enrollment will be forced into split-grade classes, with one teacher’s attention split between 2 or more grade level curriculums.
Students in low-income areas often reside in dense buildings where it can take an hour or more to safely social distance in an elevator down to the lobby. Students in dense and multi-generational housing have fewer options for self-isolation, and often rely on crowded public transportation to get to and from school.
Your government’s lack of planning has resulted in a lopsided re-opening of schools which is not working in areas like Scarborough. Inaction from the Ministry of Education will passively decide winners and losers in our education system. I urge you to step in to support equity in education under COVID-19, so that students in hotspots continue to have equal access to a quality public education.