Jul 30, 2020

By Christine Ross

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Ontario elementary students will return to school full time September 8th as will secondary students in SOME smaller boards. But in larger boards, including all public and Catholic boards in Greater Toronto, secondary students will be in school half-time and online learning from home the rest of the time.

Teacher unions had been urging that all students be masked but Education Minister Stephen Lecce says students starting in Grade 4 wear face masks all day, but  younger kids are encouraged to do so.

“The evidence presented to cabinet is overwhelmingly that it is less effective in the earliest years, that the kindergarten to grade three constituency and may have counter intuitive elements like  they don’t know how to wear it or they may touch the mask more,” Lecce told reporters.

      photo: Toronto Star

Teachers and staff will be provided with masks and face shields but the province is not implementing any physical distancing requirements.

Elementary class size will resume as normal with 20 students from grades one to three and an average of 25 in grades four to eight. High school students will be in cohort of 15 when in class. Families have the option of keeping their children home to learn online. Sports and extracurriculars will be allowed to resume as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

The province will spent $309 million to hire 500 public health nurses and 900 custodians. The funding will cover personal protective equipment  and cleaning supplies.

The NDP calls the  Ford government’s back to school plan a “massive failure on all fronts.”

“It is clear that the Ford government has put together the lowest cost, bargain basement scheme that they could come up with that will put our kids’ health and their academic success at risk,” says NDP education critic Marit Stiles.

Stiles says there’s still time to amend the plan and hire more teachers so that all students can return to class full time, in smaller groups.

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