January 7, 2022
Dear Premier Ford, Minister Lecce, Dr. Moore and Dr. De Villa,
The Toronto District School Board is committed to doing everything possible to ensure a safe and timely return to in-person learning in January. I am writing to you today first, to underscore our support of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association’s statement on January 2 that emphasizes the importance of getting students back to in-person learning safely by providing:
• Priority access to vaccinations for students and school staff;
• Continued access to PCR testing;
• N95s to school staff as soon as possible; and
• Adding COVID-19 to the list of vaccines in the Immunization of School Pupils Act.
And, beyond these four actions, we believe there is more that can – and should – be done to ensure a safe return, including:
• That principals continue to report cases of communicable diseases and refuse admittance to students showing symptoms of disease, as per the Education Act, and that families and staff continue to be informed of COVID-19 cases in individual classrooms;
• That the Province:
• continues its commitment to student and staff access to PCR testing in cases of high risk of high risk of exposure and suspected COVID-19;
• supports and implements a “Test to Return” strategy following COVID-19 illness and exposure;
• provides funding and supplies of medical masks and respirators (such as N95 and KN95 masks) for students in the same way that they are now providing for education staff;
• reimburses all school-board pandemic-related costs and provides enhanced funding for ventilation upgrades, beyond portable HEPA units, to ensure a long-term commitment to student and staff health;
• commits to fully funding the TDSB Covid-19 Pandemic Recovery Plan and
provides enhanced funding for additional staff to ensure its full implementation, which is now more important than ever given the ongoing closures and multiple transitions for students.
With the addition of this current two week pause on in-person learning, TDSB students have now spent 33 weeks learning remotely since March 2020. We also acknowledge - and fully agree with - child development experts who have stressed the primary importance of in-person learning for the sake of student mental health, well-being and cognitive development.
Thank you for your consideration and for your efforts to get students back to in-person learning to support not only their academic success, but also their mental health and well-being.
Chair, Toronto District School Board