'It Didn't Have to be This Way,' says Local ETFO President

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The local president of the Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario (ETFO) says it didn't have to be this way.

Mario Spagnuolo says the decision by the Ford government to keep schools closed to in-person learning until September, was the wrong decision.

"If they had properly invested and properly consulted a year a go and continued to work with teachers then we wouldn't be in a position to have to make this decision," he says. "So it's very unfortunate that kids, and I feel bad for the kids, are the only kids in Canada that are not going to school."

Spagnuolo believes if the government had listened to stakeholder requests a year a go, things would be different today.

"To make classes smaller, improve ventilation, to use enhanced PPE, I don't think we would be in this situation."

With many students, families and teachers feeling the burn out from the pivot to online learning, Spagnuolo says educators will do what they can to make sure students are prepared for moving into new grades in September.

"We need to work with families and students where they're at and life them up to where they need to be." he says. "What we do need though, is we need strong investments into education to make up for any gaps that have occurred so that in September we can work together to ensure that any kids that have fallen behind are brought back up."

Schools across the province moved learning online in mid-April amid an escalating third wave of the virus.

The province's top doctor along with the vast majority of his regional counterparts and other experts have said students should return to classrooms for their well-being.