Monday, 18 October, 2021


Ford pens letter seeking input on school reopening

20210527110536-60afbd2694d5e19e1f6e8761jpeg Premier seeks expert consensus before deciding on school reopening
Patty Aguilar | 29 May, 2021, 23:50

Ford said he's concerned about reopening schools given the presence of more contagious variants of COVID-19, as well as relatively low rates of vaccinated teachers and students.

The Premier's office tells 680 NEWS there will be no announcement on Friday regarding school re-openings, despite Premier Ford saying he expected to gather responses from health and education stakeholders by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, before his government could ultimately reach a decision.

But Ford said he doesn't want to rely exclusively on the advice of the province's top public health official, Dr. David Williams, who believes students should return to the classroom.

"Schools can re-open safely on a regional basis, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the local Medical Officers of Health, School Districts and health system partners", read the letter. In it, they expressed their support for the reopening of schools.

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Premier Doug Ford has written an open letter to medical experts and health units asking for their opinions when it comes to reopening schools for this semester.

"If deemed safe, a return to in-person learning would end school on a positive note for a year that saw many interruptions".

"Leaders always receive conflicting and contradictory advice from different sources", he wrote on Twitter, the social media platform where much of the advice from these groups (and scores of somewhat anonymous accounts of frustrated teachers and parents) is already delivered.

"Most of the medical officials of health in the province of Ontario, including those in the GTA, feel that they are pretty well ready to move on that as soon as possible because they understand the need for the students to be back in for many reasons and the value of in-class attendance".

He also suggested that only 41 per cent of Ontario teachers and education workers have received a COVID-19 vaccine compared to 62 per cent of the general population, something he calls "concerning".

"At Toronto Public Health, our preference is that the restoration of in-person learning should precede the lifting of any other restrictions implemented to reduce COVID-19 transmission", de Villa wrote in her letter.

On Thursday, Ford sent a letter to dozens of health experts and stakeholders asking for their input on reopening schools. "Our front-line educators are in a position to recognise signs of abuse and to support children suffering with mental health issues". "But I want the scientists to weigh in. So we're going to make sure we're going to be cautious".

Dr. Lawrence Loh, the medical officer of health for Peel Region, said key COVID-19 indicators support the resumption of in-person learning. I want other educational workers to weigh in. "I don't want to rush this".

The four major teachers' unions, who represent the majority of teachers in the province, responded to the letter by saying, "meaningful dialogue requires more than a 32 hours' notice to respond to questions better suited to those in the medical and public health communities".

"The feedback I have had as of today is that all the ones around the GTHA say they have conducted case and contact management and they're prepared to have their schools open", he said.

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