Ontario students are returning to school, but will it be a « normal » year?

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The students face another uncertain year as they prepare for the return of school.

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While Education Minister Stephen Lecce assured families that all necessary protections and supports would be in place, NDP MP Marit Stiles said the same promise was made last year.

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« I haven’t spoken to anyone I know who sees a difference in classrooms, including not just frontline education workers but families as well, » said Stiles, a spokesperson for his party in education. “In fact, I find that people are finding it more difficult than ever to find support either in school or outside of school. These announcements don’t seem to have really resulted in additional support in the classrooms and they certainly haven’t resulted in a reduction in class sizes, which most experts said is necessary for our children to get more out of this course. individual. A support.

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Lecce released its catch-up plan last month, calling for a year of more normal learning after two years of pandemic disruption.

In addition to resuming full-time classroom learning, the province expects students to have access to extracurricular activities like sports and travel.

The minister also says there will be new tutoring supports in place to address gaps in learning and expanded mental health supports for students.

However, the department is in negotiations with education unions and those responsible for improving cleaning and student mental health supports could be on the picket lines as early as October.

Contracts with teachers and other school staff in Ontario expire on Wednesday.


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CUPE Ontario, which represents school custodians as well as social workers and other support staff, has scheduled a strike vote for the end of September.

CUPE is seeking inflationary wage increases while Lecce is trying to hold the line at 1.25-2% a year, arguing that the cost of duplicating the union’s 11.7% wage hike demand and further demands in all education unions would cost the government as much as the education budgets of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia combined.

Stiles said negotiations didn’t get off to a good start.

« I don’t think the minister is taking a responsible approach, and in fact I think his threats are more likely to cause disruption than anything going on right now, » Stiles said. “If you want to get a deal and you want to get through this school year, you have to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and sit up and listen… By threatening things like essential worker legislation, by stepping up that, it is really likely to disrupt the school year.

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The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has released its back-to-school guidance for students and parents in time for a September 7 return date.

On COVID-19 protocols:

Masks: optional but “compatible with masks”

Screening: students and staff are asked to do a daily self-assessment before entering school and to stay home if they are sick

Cohorting: no longer necessary for health and safety reasons

Screening: rapid antigen tests available to staff and students upon request or upon return from an unscheduled absence

Ventilation: At least one institutional HEPA filter per occupied classroom

Cleaning: Housekeeping will perform routine cleaning and enhanced cleaning of “heavy duty surfaces” such as light switches and door handles.


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