EXCLUSIVE: Poll shows most Ontario parents stand with teachers in return to school

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An exclusive poll shows most Ontario parents stand in solidarity with teachers when it comes to back to school, as long as the concerns they raise are legitimate.

The poll, conducted by Maru/BLUE for NEWSTALK1010, finds more than half of Ontario parents stand in solidarity with teachers who refuse to work in a school if they have a health condition that could put them at higher risk — like a compromised immune system, COPD or asthma.

But 60 per cent believe teachers should do what other frontline workers have done during the pandemic — "suck it up and do the job it takes to adapt to these conditions".

Pollster John Wright explains why most parents identify with both statements.

"Parents see teachers as frontline workers, and when it's cast in that light, they want compromise, they want teachers to do the job that it takes to adapt to the conditions of the pandemic," Wright says. "If they're not going to do that in order to make things worse, then they are not going to be seen as allies to parents."

But the 60 per cent of parents who stand with teachers feel like their health and the health and safety of the students shouldn't be put at risk, if there are major issues.

"Parents are allies with teachers when it's done in a helpful way to point out where health concerns are going to affect the children," Wright says. "Let's say someobne has a compromised immune system or that they are vulnerable to a disease, then parents are going to side with the teachers in having them stay home. They're not going to allow that individual to be fired and someone else hired to take their place."

Wright says most of this comes down to parents feeling that during this pandemic, everyone needs to compromise.

Meanwhile 39 per cent of parents believe that if a teacher doesn't have a serious health condition that puts them at risk, they should be fired and replaced if they refuse to work.