EDITORIAL: Ontario is not ready to go back to school

by | Feb 5, 2021 | Commentary, Editorial

Despite the province’s recent success in fighting COVID-19, schools are not yet at the stage where children can return for in-person learning.

One of the province’s most debated and contested decisions during the pandemic has been its stance on getting children back to school in person. Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Wednesday the plan is for children to return to school on Feb. 8 except for Toronto, and Peel and York Regions, which will reopen on Feb. 16.

The timing of the announcement makes sense; cases per day are starting to decline and the government is hoping the good news will protect them from the criticism their back to school policies normally produce. The plan, or lack of one, is another attempt to misrepresent medical professionals and to try to appease a base that has too much power in the province.

While the province has addressed some concerns like supplying masks, officials failed to provide a solution to the lack of air flow in schools. This was one of the biggest issues in the fall term and it still hasn’t been addressed.

Part of the problem is Doug Ford and his staff’s reputability when it comes to issues surrounding COVID-19. In the fall Ford bragged he was following Ronald McDonald House guidelines when he wasn’t. The CEO of Registered Nurses Association of Ontario has called for Dr. David Williams to resign after comments on how healthcare workers have become “casual” with COVID-19 when 10 have died in the province.

Needless to say the good will seems to have run dry.

Online schools can work, but require preparation, something Ontario was sorely lacking. This has led to a shoddy system and desparation to get kids back in class. But an idea executed badly isn’t necessarily a bad idea. There is real concern that going back to school is.

The pandemic has exposed shortcomings in the online learning system, in everything from actual learning to children’s mental health. We should be spending our resources to try and fix the system we already have in place as opposed to kinds back into the classroom to soon.

Instead, we have a plan that has ignored professional medical experts, hasn’t addressed issues still present since the fall, and the families who choose to stay online will face an uphill battle. We’ve somehow managed to find the worst of both worlds, and soon we may not be able to fix it.