Local teachers unions calling for additional protection for schools

Children wearing face masks in school. (File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / halfpoint)

Teachers’ unions in Windsor-Essex are calling on the provincial government to offer more supports for schools and teachers before students return to the classroom.

“The government’s ill-conceived and underfunded plans, and refusal to listen to experts and frontline workers, have failed our staff and students time and again throughout this Pandemic,” reads a letter to the premier signed by the local chapters of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation.

The local unions echo the calls of their provincial counterparts calling for the government to provide more funding to hire more teachers and create smaller classes. They would also like increased funding for improvements to ventilation and to install HEPA filters and CO2 monitors in every classroom.

In the letter to the premier, the unions are calling for a mandatory mask policy for all students, including primary grades. They would also like to institute rapid COVID testing procedures for education workers and students.

For online learners, the union is calling on the government to provide further direction for school boards to provide a more streamlined approach to the learning model and to ensure all students have equal access to the materials they need to succeed.

“This pandemic has had a disproportionate and negative impact on our marginalized communities, particularly in racialized and low-income families, which your policies have only exacerbated. Your government must change direction to ensure that our most vulnerable are not left behind,” reads the letter to the premier.

Finally, they would like to see education workers prioritized on the provinces’ vaccine plan.

Students in both elementary and secondary schools are expected to return to in-class learning as of January 25, 2021. The closure was extended by the provincial government on Thursday siting an increase of cases among school-aged children.