Millroy: Classroom Sizes, Troublesome


Teachers unions in Ontario are concerned that the government’s plan to reopen schools in the fall doesn’t include an accommodation for smaller class sizes to assist in the defence against the coronavirus Covid-19.

I certainly share that concern and I believe a lot of parents do too.

Actually, I would prefer that the government put off the opening of schools for a month, going with an October opening instead of the regular September. This would allow it to see what happens in other boards in other provinces as well as in the United States, where some boards have already opened their schools for classes.

If these places show a spike in Covid-19 and have to shut down for a limited time or maybe even the full term, by waiting Ontario school boards could bypass the pain that would cause.
I realize problems can develop with children not going to school, but there is a greater danger lurking with the virus.

We have it pretty good in the Sault at the moment, with only 27 cases having been found as of this Aug. 8 writing, but that can change in a hurry with a virus that is so easily transmitted.
Look at Sudbury. It was sailing along nicely and then got hit with 22 in a matter of days, bringing its total to 91.

One has to worry not only about the classroom sizes but how students can mingle in far greater number in school hallways.

To show such dangers a couple of students in a school in Dallas, Georgia, took photos of students crowded together in a hallway. Few were wearing masks.

The photo-taking students were suspended and the principal, Gabe Carmona, warned other students against doing the same.

I think the students should have been given medals, since they showed something that shouldn’t be happening in these troubled times.

After the backlash that followed, Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott told parents and guardians in a letter that the images “didn’t look good.” But he argued that they lacked context about the 2,000-plus student school, where masks are a “personal choice.”
He never explained what the lack of context was. I thought the photos showing maskless students crowded together in a hallway spoke for themselves.

Hannah Watters, 15, one of the students involved in the photo-taking, said the opening of the schools has not been done safely.

“Many people are not following CDC (Centre for Disease Control) guidelines because the county did not make these precautions mandatory,” Watters told BuzzFeed News.

The teen, who said she’d never before run afoul of the code of conduct in regard to the use of social media during school hours, told the news outlet that she understood she broke the rules. But she also said she viewed her punishment of five days suspension as overly harsh.

The suspension of the students was later rescinded.

Otott, the superintendent, has emailed a letter to parents that stated the district will be providing all staff with cloth masks and face shields and will try to reduce crowding in school hallways during class changes.

Social distancing and the wearing of masks are “strongly encouraged,” but the district has not required either. It notified parents this month that both would be nearly impossible to enforce on school buses and in classrooms.

That, of course, is a crock. There should be no problem enforcing this in classrooms and on school buses and I would expect this to be the case in Ontario for the age brackets involved.
After all, the virus gives no quarter. We can’t either.

BY THE TIME YOU READ this, I would hope the Canadian government would have shown some compassion for a Canadian woman who is fighting cancer and wants to get her British fiancé into this country.

Jonathan Bradley of the National Post last week detailed the story of Sarah Campbell, an art therapy graduate student from Stratford, Ont., who was supposed to get married to Jacob Taylor on June 27, but he was prevented from entering the country when Canada closed its border because of COVID-19.

Campbell decided she would go to the United Kingdom to get married because she is a dual citizen and that country did not close its borders. But then she discovered a lump on her neck.

Doctors told her it was thyroid cancer.

In the House of Commons, her MP, John Nater, asked for an exemption for her fiance to come to Canada from Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair.

Blair responded to Nater with a rejection email a few hours after the request was made. Blair said Taylor could not come in because he did not qualify for one of the 23 exemptions outlined in government policy.

Fiances are not on the list of immediate family members who can be allowed in. The order in council about the border closures has been extended until August 31.

“No one wants to hear that they have cancer, but to have to go through this alone has been one of the most difficult times in my life,” Campbell told Bradley.

“It’s so ridiculous that we can fill bars and restaurants, we can have gatherings of 100 people outside, but my one fiance is still being barred entry into Canada as I undergo cancer treatment.”

She’s right. It is ridiculous.

As a story in The Sault Star related last week, we have a person who lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, but works at Algoma Steel, who just won the right to travel over the International Bridge to work on a regular basis.

Campbell’s fiancé will make the entry once and then go into the 14 days of quarantine.
We have thousands of people travelling back and forth over the borders through the 23 exemptions the government has listed.

I think it is heartless not to allow the one entry Campbell is requesting.


  1. The Ford government has done a good job with this virus. I am sure they consulted with health officials and got their opinion. We can’t continue to live in fear. Let them open and if an issue comes up it will be the time to go back to what was the norm before school ended in June.

Comments are closed.