ETFO President Calling for More Action During Week of Virtual Learning

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Students across the province are taking part in virtual learning this week as part of a province-wide lockdown, but the president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario is not happy.

Sam Hammond says, with classrooms empty, it's concerning the Ministry of Education hasn't spent any additional funding to put new safeguards in place to ensure students are safe when they return. 

Hammond says the rules of the lockdown should be applied to the classroom.

"In the middle of a lockdown the government is going to have educators and kids back in classrooms of 25 to 30 without reducing class sizes, without continuing to improve ventilation and without proper physical distancing again," he says.

Hammond told AM800's The Afternoon News that local Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, made the right call in making students go virtual the week before the Christmas break.

"I applaud the medical officer of health in the Windsor area for having the courage, based on what he's seeing and what's happening in schools in the Windsor-Essex area, to have shut them down and to be considering, perhaps, doing the same thing for a couple of more weeks," he says.

Hammond says the provincial government needs to consider keeping students home longer.

"We're concerned that they're sending students and educators back into schools a week from now when we have 3,000 COVID cases per day. We hope that they will, as the medical officer of health in Windsor-Essex is doing, reconsider what's happening and look at options," he adds.

As it stands now, elementary students in southern Ontario and all students in northern Ontario are scheduled to return to in-person learning on January 11 — high school students in southern Ontario will attend school online until January 25.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is expected to provide its return to in-person learning recommendations later this week.