For a couple of weeks Ontario’s teachers unions have been running a radio and newspaper campaign criticizing the back-to-school plan put forward by Education Minister Stephen Lecce. NDP leader Andrea Horwath has also been critical of the plan calling it “bargain basement” as she also called for Premier Doug Ford to Fire Lecce. The Bay Observer wanted to know what the teacher’s unions and Horwath’s back to school plan might look like. Last Wednesday, we sent the following message to the four teachers unions and the NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s press secretary.
I had a couple of questions about back-to-school. With the new money coming in from the feds I wondered how many teachers does (your organization) think would need to be hired to get class sizes to the optimum number? Any Idea of the cost? What happens to the teachers when the pandemic is over? Appreciate any assistance, Thanks!
Within an hour we received a phone call from Harvey Bischof of OSSTF representing secondary teachers, who said his group was not pressing for change at present as the government plan for GTHA schools at least would cap class sizes at 15, although he expressed some concern about outlying school boards where classes will be at regular size, but are in areas where the incidence of COVID has been lower than the GTHA.
The following day we also heard from the English Catholic Teachers who issued the following statement: “It is difficult to calculate the precise cost of appropriately reducing class sizes to facilitate physical distancing. Needless to say, it is far more than what the Ford government has put forward, even with the rescue funding provided by the federal government. These are truly extraordinary times, and the Ford government continues to claim that they will spare no expense to keep students, teachers, families, and our communities safe. It’s time for them to show they mean it by acknowledging the scale of the emergency and providing a real, comprehensive plan that puts all reasonable precautions in place.” Liz Stuart, President of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association.
To date we have not heard from The Elementary teachers, the French teachers nor the NDP as to what they would do differently, nor the cost.