Teachers eager, anxious for in-person classes, new measures Monday

“You want to engage with the students but at the same time not get COVID” : Teacher

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As a high school teacher and parent, Shauna Ellis is eager to get back to class, but she has a lot of questions about how safe schools will be.

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“You want to engage with the students but at the same time not get COVID,” said the Pickering High School science teacher and mother of three.

“I love teaching. I actually love being in the classroom, but it’s this whole unknown factor because they’re not reporting cases,” she said.

Ellis has noticed a big difference in her children since they have been learning online.

“They really need to see their friends. Their mental breakdown at the end of the day is really sad to see.”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said a supply of almost four million rapid tests — two for each student — will help give a snapshot of virus spread.

He also touted the providing of N95 masks for teachers and staff; along with almost four million masks for students; 3,000 more HEPA filters.

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Ellis sees the N95 plan as a good move.

“I guess we will find out more once we show up to school on Monday,” she said.

She is unsure how staff and parents will find out when or if a school will be shut down.

The government says principals will inform their local public health unit once absenteeism hits 30% at their school.

For Ellis – that means the potential for sporadic shutdowns.

“I’m thinking the plan is to keep the schools open. But there’s a chance that if it spreads really quickly — if you get enough absenteeisms — they might lock it down,” she said.

Lecce’s office said concerned parents will have access to absentee numbers in their child’s school, starting Jan. 24, on the provincial website, ontario.ca.

  1. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce looks over at Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, during a news conference in Toronto on Thursday, November 18, 2021. CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

    Ontario unveils COVID testing plan for kids in schools

  2. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce looks over at Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, during a news conference in Toronto on Thursday, November 18, 2021. CHRIS YOUNG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

    Ontario unveils COVID testing plan for kids in schools

  3. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce at a press conference in Ottawa on October 13, 2021.

    Ontario allowing retired teachers to work more days

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A lawyer for the Ontario Families Coalition sent a letter to Lecce about a potential charter challenge in the event schools are shuttered again.

The letter, written by lawyer Ewa Krajewska from Henein Hutchison LLP, says the families are “understandably skeptical of your long-term commitment to keeping school open given the events of the last two years.”

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“Our clients remain ready to initiate this legal action should your government again backtrack on its re-opening plans,” the letter said.

The founder of the coalition, Bronwen Alsop, said” “We aren’t going to back down. If Ford closes schools again we will move forward.”

Ellis anticipates Monday will be a big day for herself and her children who she said are “definitely excited to go back. They miss being in the classroom. They have huge difficulty learning online.”

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