Toronto – The Ontario government’s re-announcement today of capital funding for new schools does nothing to prepare the province for the safe return of students and staff to schools this September.
“All summer, ETFO has pressed the government to provide sufficient emergency funding to ensure a safe return to school. So far, the government has offered nothing,” said Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).
“Today’s re-announcement of already allocated long-term investments shows a clear disconnect between this government’s priorities and those of parents, students and educators. The reality is that, at this point in time, school boards do not have the necessary funds to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
School boards need funding for masks/personal protective equipment (PPE), handwashing facilities and twice-daily enhanced cleaning and disinfection of schools, which will require additional custodial staff and supplies. They also need to ensure many other enhancements to keep everyone safe such as building ventilation that meets recommended standards. Funding for additional staff will also be critical to a safe and healthy return.
“Without this emergency funding, we are sending students and educators into a work and learning environment where safety is not assured. This scenario suggests that the government priorities for restarting the economy are greater than protecting the province’s children, educators, parents and their communities,” added Hammond.
Ontarians are nearly twice as likely to agree that spending on public education is more important than eliminating the deficit, according to a study recently released by the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA).
ETFO has issued a call to action to parents to write their MPPs demanding more emergency funding at https://www.
ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.