Dear Minister Lecce,
I am writing in support of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto (ETT), who have written an open letter outlining their concerns for the health and wellbeing of students, parents, teachers, custodians, education workers, and communities. From their experience they have provided a detailed assessment and recommendations on how to address planning for a safe return to school in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic. They require immediate funding to address these concerns and are calling on the Toronto District School Board to raise these funding needs with the province. I echo their call for equitable, fair, clear and consistent COVID-19 protocols directed by the Ministry of Education, and request for much-needed emergency funding to keep classrooms safe.
As ETT has aptly noted, “…teacher safety is student safety. Safe working conditions for teachers means safe learning conditions for students, and, beyond that, increased safety for families and in our communities. Unfortunately, the provincial government has not committed the necessary funding to keep our schools safe this fall.”
Health experts, educators, unions and parents have made it clear that a 5-day return to school will require smaller class sizes to allow for physical distancing. Schools also need sufficient funding for additional cleaning and sanitizing, including additional custodial staff, PPE, and other supplies.
Unfortunately, much is still not clear about how the Provincial government intends to support school boards to meet these challenges. I support the call for action from elementary teachers to keep schools safe in September.