Scores of parents called on the Ontario government on Saturday to reopen schools for full-time classes this fall with safety measures in place amid the pandemic.
At a rally at the Ontario legislature, parents said a regular school schedule is vital to health and well-being of children and important for an “equitable” economic recovery. Such a schedule means the students would be in class five days a week.
Bronwen Alsop, an organizer of the rally, told CBC News that parents want a “well-thought out” plan from the government that allows for full-time learning. Alsop is a mother of two children with special needs.
The Ontario government should fund the safety protocols needed to make learning in the classroom happen, she said.
According to a recent directive from the Ontario education ministry, the government has asked school boards to prepare for three scenarios: in-class learning, online learning or a hybrid model that would be a mixture of both.
“We would like to ensure that our children and our teachers are safe,” Alsop said on Saturday before the rally.
“We do not believe the hybrid plan is going to work for the children. We want to make sure that our children have extra safety precautions in the room, more staff, more funding dedicated to make sure they are completely safe for five days a week.”
Alsop said the hybrid plan could result in more infections because children could be in daycare on the days they are not in class.
She added that leaving it up to individual school boards to work out a plan for the school year puts a lot of pressure on those boards. The province needs a full financial plan to make sure that children and teachers are safe, she said.
The rally came a day after the Toronto District School Board asked the province to reassess its plan for next school year.
Alsop said online learning is very difficult for families with special needs children. She added her own children benefit tremendously from the structure of the classroom.
Parents and educators have gathered at Queen’s Park showing their support for a full-time return to class in September. They want to see all 3 levels of government fund the safety protocols needed to make this happen. <a href=”https://twitter.com/CBCToronto?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@CBCToronto</a> <a href=”https://t.co/oSzJZdItiq”>pic.twitter.com/oSzJZdItiq</a>