Teachers’ union allege back-to-school plan breaks provincial law

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Classroom Blackbord Desk

TORONTO — Ontario’s four major teacher’s unions allege the province’s back-to-school plan violates its own occupational health and safety legislation.

The unions have asked for a meeting with the minister of labour and representatives to discuss the issue by next Friday.

They argue there is a lack of scientific consensus on significant aspects of COVID-19 and as such, the province is required under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act to implement all reasonable measures to reduce the risks posed by the virus.

They allege the provincial plan fails to provide adequate health and safety protections such as smaller class sizes, minimal measurable standards for ventilation in schools, and mandatory masking for younger children.

The unions — the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation — represent more than 190,000 teachers and education workers.

The province today announced it’s going to allow school boards to access $500 million in their own reserves to achieve physical distancing.

The government says it will also spend $50 million to update school HVAC systems, and another $18 million for principal and support staff hires to help administer online learning.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Teachers need to start teaching again. They continually complain and seem to be never satisfied. We have to get this economy going again. Kids need to be in school for learning…socialization AND so their parents can go back to THEIR Jobs. We are not like the rest of the province. we have had no one hospitalized with the virus. Who do teachers feel they are going to pick the virus up from?
    Enough with the excuses…get back to work.

    • b… many teachers have been teaching all along. Teaching by Zoom or other online platform is still teaching, and in many cases have to do more prep work than for in-person teaching.
      If it seems like that “continually complain” it could be due to being treated so poorly by successive governments. In this case, the government did not consult with the teachers regarding the school re-opening plans. Ford and Lecce insist they consulted medical experts but neglected to seek input from educational experts.
      As for hospitalized cases, there are currently 653 pending tests. As well, there could be asymptomatic cases, or new cases could come in from out of the region through travellers, etc. The pandemic is not over by any means. Vigilance is still required. Even with no new cases to report so far, no one can be certain that new cases will not emerge.
      The conditions in a classroom with closer contact and poor ventilation result in many contagious illnesses being spread quickly.
      Better safe than sorry.

  2. These are the same teachers who go wherever they want, be with whomever they please, have get togethers and parties with groups of people, many with young kids in tow, In other words live normally. But in school, they need more safety, but outside the school they can mix and mingle, and socialize as they please.This to me makes no sense at all.

  3. You know I was all for the teachers before this all happened but I’m sorry the kids need to go back to school. The government is doing the best to make sure they are safe and I think teachers union is just being a little stupid.

  4. To be completely honest, if your in a city like mine with 0 cases, kids are fine to go back to school, however the border city border opens and we’re finished. I really hope they keep that bored we closed for at least a year or two! If they don’t I guess I’ll be pulling my son out of school and moving

    • Michael Bizier there is no plan. Hvacs may or may not be getting upgraded, there isn’t enough janitorial staff to realistically sanitize the student’s desks or lab spaces between classes

    • so the teachers union hasn’t released their own plan of what they think would make it safer? or do they want the school year cancelled until COVID-19 is eradicated?

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