Local OECTA President Cautiously Optimistic About Return to Classroom

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After months of planning, students across Windsor-Essex are finally returning to the classroom.

Thursday marks the first day back for most school boards and the local president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association says there are going to be some challenges after nearly six months away.

Joe Brannagan says there's no question staff are feeling anxious with so many unanswered questions as to how students will be kept safe.

He says the Ministry of Education should have taken more time to listen to parents and teachers.

"Much of this falls in the Ministry of Education not providing enough guidance to school boards and school boards are left without answers themselves. The government flat out refusing to go ahead and take a look at important stakeholders like parents and teachers who have input into the return to school plans."

Brannagan says, with many factors in play, some teachers are feeling overwhelmed.

"I think now everybody is aware of the students that will be in their class, however, there's several different platforms that are going to be needed to be used and that's creating quite a bit of questions from everybody. A lot of the anxiety is associated with that."

He says, at a time when it's needed most, leadership has failed to step up.

"While nobody has ever planned for this or ever seen this before, I think the lack of leadership from the Ministry of Education is evident and you hear it in parents, you hear it in teachers, you hear it from board members. It's reflective of their lack of transparency with everyone."

Brannagan says, while these are unprecedented times, the one thing parents can depend on is the dedication of teachers and school staff.

All schools boards across the region have opted for a staggered start with students slowly returning to the classroom over the next couple of weeks.

— with files from AM800's Rob Hindi