Reopening of schools

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Reopening of schools

School bus drivers add to chorus of back-to-school concerns

​School bus drivers say that with just weeks to go until a return to classes in Ontario they are still in the dark about the measures being taken to ensure they can safely transport students.

Michelle Lavallee, an elementary school bus driver in Bowmanville in the Durham region outside Toronto, says she won’t know her route or how many students will be on it until Sept. 3, but that another driver she knows has been told she will be driving 74 children on a 72-seat bus.

“It really makes no sense to me, because the schools are going to be cohorting, the parents and children have been told when they're at the bus stops that they need to social distance, yet when they get on the bus they’re going to be shoulder-to-shoulder,” Lavallee said in a phone interview.

The 14-year veteran says her employer has yet to receive personal protective equipment promised by the Ford government and she is undecided on whether to return.

“It's hard for me to say right now if I will be returning because I don't know what I am returning to,” she said. “I think a school bus needs to be treated as any other indoor space is being treated.”....

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What you need to know about the legal showdown brewing between Ford and teachers

​Here are some details on the various laws, regulations and bodies that could come into play in an ongoing dispute over whether Ontario Premier Doug Ford's government has done enough to protect teachers and students returning to the classroom for the first time since March.

Ontario Labour Relations Board —This board is the quasi-judicial body tasked under the Labour Relations Act with adjudicating labour disputes in the province that do not require the attention of a court and judge. It rules on disputes related to the Employment Standards Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the School Boards Collective Bargaining Act and other labour laws.

Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act — This act gives workers the right to a safe workplace and to refuse unsafe work. Of particular relevance here, it obliges an employer to “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”

The unions argue that Ontario’s government is in breach of the law by failing to adequately limit class sizes, ensure a minimum standard of ventilation in schools, or enforce the use of masks for all students.

Ontario Human Rights Code — The code protects people from discrimination on the basis of a range of characteristics, including family status and disability. This could prove relevant if a school or board does not provide adequate accommodation to a teacher or other education worker who must stay home to care for a child or other dependant, or who is otherwise vulnerable due to an underlying health condition.....

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Manitobans For a Safe Return to School in September

quote:

We the undersigned call on the Government of Manitoba to provide a safe and equitable school reopening by committing to:

  1. Publicly-funded, school-supported instruction and assessment for all students, whether they are learning in the classroom or remotely from home. This requires sufficient staffing levels to not increase the workload of individual teachers. Medical documentation should not be required as a condition of access to public education for children who stay home;
  2. Provide school employees who request to work remotely appropriate opportunities to support students learning at home;
  3. Class sizes small enough to support physical distancing of two metres; 
  4. Make mask use mandatory for all teachers, staff and students, providing exemptions where appropriate;
  5. Assess ventilation and/or filtration systems in all school settings and follow all  recommendations for upgrades required to drastically reduce virus transmission;
  6. Reinstate the mandatory two-week self-isolation order for all non-essential out-of-province travellers; 
  7. Provide full paid sick leave to all divisional employees who self isolate while ill, awaiting COVID-19 test results or recovering from COVID-19, including substitute employees;
  8. Hire additional supply teachers and educational assistants to address staff on leave. This will allow divisions to limit the number of classrooms and school contacts they are exposed to and exposing.

We know a safe return to school is possible - other countries have demonstrated this.

Aristotleded24

This is a great example of how covid safety needs to be taken into context of everything else. If you reduce capacity on school buses, to transport the same number of children you need to do 1 of 2 things: more parents drive their children, or you put more buses on the road and at the schools. Driving children to school and children moving on and off the bus are both real safety hazards that need to be taken into account. More buses and cars at the school give more chances for bad things to happen.

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Aristotleded24 wrote:

This is a great example of how covid safety needs to be taken into context of everything else. If you reduce capacity on school buses, to transport the same number of children you need to do 1 of 2 things: more parents drive their children, or you put more buses on the road and at the schools. Driving children to school and children moving on and off the bus are both real safety hazards that need to be taken into account. More buses and cars at the school give more chances for bad things to happen.

..in this statement your trying to deal with imagined future problems without dealing with the in your face threat. my great niece's mother said she will not be sending her 7 yr old daughter to school because she is much to social for her to be safe. mother thinks to open schools the way they are doing in mb is insane. in mb to keep your child at home in times of covid you need a medical certificate. this is the reopening authoritarianism from the right. 

Aristotleded24

epaulo13 wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

This is a great example of how covid safety needs to be taken into context of everything else. If you reduce capacity on school buses, to transport the same number of children you need to do 1 of 2 things: more parents drive their children, or you put more buses on the road and at the schools. Driving children to school and children moving on and off the bus are both real safety hazards that need to be taken into account. More buses and cars at the school give more chances for bad things to happen.

..in this statement your trying to deal with imagined future problems without dealing with the in your face threat. my great niece's mother said she will not be sending her 7 yr old daughter to school because she is much to social for her to be safe. mother thinks to open schools the way they are doing in mb is insane. in mb to keep your child at home in times of covid you need a medical certificate. this is the reopening authoritarianism from the right. 

Any hazard planning for the future deals with imagined hypothetical scenarios. The issue of schools reopening is also in the future and hypothetical because it has not happened yet. As for the iminent threat? So far in the pandemic, 2 children have died from covid, none in Manitoba. Tragic for sure, but how does that make it a major threat from a public policy perspective. Loading and unloading school buses is a well-known safety hazard.

I get that people are afraid of covonavirus, and this is in part because it's all the news has talked about for the last half a year. I don't find people's fear and public perceptions of the coronavirus persuasive at all. I want to know data and facts. I want to know how this thing is spread and if there is a big risk of transmission among children. We have many horror stories about school reopenings going wrong, but I'm not sure how representative that is. As for the school re-opening plan, you are not going to make everybody happy. Some parents are ready to send their children back to school, the media just isn't talking to those parents. No matter how "safe" you make the schools, there will always be parents who are afraid to send their children back.

Finally, I dispute your contention that re-opening is authoritarian. By definition, closing things down and restricting people's movements and activities is authoritarian. Opening the schools and workplaces back up is not authoritarian. I am absolutely shocked that too many people on the left don't see this and are cheering on blatantly authoritarian shutdowns in the name of stopping the coronavirus that they would be calling out if implimented under any other circumstances.

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..your focus on people's fear is is a mistake. it is not the only driving force. parent's teachers bus drivers have a responsibility to the child..which you don't address. you just continue your pet theory as if that is the way forward. you don't like what the gov is doing resist and change. just like parents, teachers and bus drivers are doing. that is the real way forward. 

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Education is a human right, but it certainly hasn’t been a COVID-19 priority

quote:

Our governments are not only failing children, they’re failing parents, and mothers, in particular. Women have faced the brunt of this pandemic, accounting for most of our front-line and health care workers. Women have also represented the majority of pandemic layoffs and have returned to work at half the rate of men. Parents are at a breaking point – we’ve been juggling 40 hours of work, 20 hours of home school and 100 hours of parenting a week for months, with no end in sight. We’ve magically (barely) made the math homework happen. But it is not sustainable. Already, employers are pressing staff to return to work. Parents cannot leave children home alone, which will force those who can’t afford alternative arrangements to drop out of the work force. A loss of household income will devastate many families, especially single parents, and set back women’s equality by years. Our inability to reopen schools will push families into poverty, slowing economic recovery, increasing demand on government assistance and deepening inequality.

Parents understood the need to flatten the curve. But with restaurants, bars, golf clubs and gyms reopening, it is increasingly obvious that we have our priorities utterly backward. Education and child care must be our biggest priority, not a mere afterthought delegated to school boards and schools. Nor should governments hope online learning is a substitute for classroom learning. While online classes might be manageable for older children, evidence shows they simply don’t work for younger kids.

We need to be blunt here: There is no viable reopening of the economy without child care and schools. Actual leadership on this issue would see politicians at all levels of government committing to safely reopening schools and daycares to the fullest extent possible. They would work together with experts, and fund school boards to develop innovative, creative solutions to get kids back to in-person education, prioritizing vulnerable and at-risk children. This could include requisitioning properties such as recreation centres, local colleges and universities, and fast-tracking teacher trainees and pairing them with experienced mentors. Governments would communicate openly and clearly with parents, and develop contingency plans for the outbreaks that will inevitably happen as long as COVID-19 is among us.

Parents understood the need to flatten the curve. But with restaurants, bars, golf clubs and gyms reopening, it is increasingly obvious that we have our priorities utterly backward. Education and child care must be our biggest priority, not a mere afterthought delegated to school boards and schools. Nor should governments hope online learning is a substitute for classroom learning. While online classes might be manageable for older children, evidence shows they simply don’t work for younger kids.

We need to be blunt here: There is no viable reopening of the economy without child care and schools. Actual leadership on this issue would see politicians at all levels of government committing to safely reopening schools and daycares to the fullest extent possible. They would work together with experts, and fund school boards to develop innovative, creative solutions to get kids back to in-person education, prioritizing vulnerable and at-risk children. This could include requisitioning properties such as recreation centres, local colleges and universities, and fast-tracking teacher trainees and pairing them with experienced mentors. Governments would communicate openly and clearly with parents, and develop contingency plans for the outbreaks that will inevitably happen as long as COVID-19 is among us.

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Coronavirus: Canada to give provinces $2B to ensure kids can go back to school in fall

The federal government is giving $2 billion more to provinces and territories to help them ensure kids can safely go back to school next month.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is to make the announcement Wednesday at a school in Toronto.

The money is on top of the $19 billion Trudeau has already promised provinces and territories to help them cope with the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their economies and health care systems.

quote:

Education is a provincial jurisdiction and the sources said Trudeau will fully respect that.

Provinces and territories will be able to spend the money as they see fit to bolster their efforts to ensure schools can reopen this fall as safely as possible.

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Brandon parents told smaller gathering limits don't apply to schools

As residents in Brandon Man. are adjusting to new pandemic restrictions that came into effect Monday, parents are trying to wrap their heads around how back-to school plans could be impacted.

"It's super confusing and extremely frustrating," said Brandon mother of three Nicole Oliver.

The Prairie Mountain Health region, which includes Brandon, has been placed under heightened restrictions after COVID-19 cases there have surged in the past two weeks.

The orange, or "restricted" level limits gathering sizes to 10, but the Brandon School Division says it will continue to operate under its yellow, or "caution" risk level plan, which has caused parents like Oliver to question why schools are exempt.

"I'm quite confused as to why they magically get excluded," said Oliver, whose kids range from Grade 2 to Grade 7.

"We've been actively avoiding very large crowds, we haven't gone to really anything all summer because we are keeping to ourselves and keeping our bubble fairly small but [now] we're going to go back to three kids in three different grades, essentially [exposure to] the entire school," she said.....

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#SafeSeptemberMB is growing and the Brandon community has a group. Join to get involved if you call Brandon home.

TOMORROW AT 9 AM – 6 PM

Safe Restart Manitoba-Brandon Rally

A march from City Hall to the Brandon School Division Office where we will voice our concerns as parents,teachers and citizens and let the government know we demand a safe plan to re-open schools in September

Pondering

Bottomline is the government only rules by the will of the people. Parents who believe they are risking the lives of their children or loved ones that they come in contact with will not send their children to school if they do not believe it is safe to do so. In Quebec Legault is saying truant officers will go to homes if children don't attend school. That works if it is just a few kids. It doesn't work if there is mass public disobedience, which I expect will occur.

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They gonna pay me and my husband wages when they bring COVID home from school and we lose out on work while it runs through our whole family unit? We know how the seasonal flu comes through it’s never everyone sick at the same time. I’m gonna need some bills paid! There measures are not enough! Especially in the area we are in we are in the orange and yet our school is opening at the as yellow or level 1?! When we should be orange or level 2 based on our area numbers and community transmission that has gotten us to orange level!

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Pondering wrote:

Bottomline is the government only rules by the will of the people. Parents who believe they are risking the lives of their children or loved ones that they come in contact with will not send their children to school if they do not believe it is safe to do so. In Quebec Legault is saying truant officers will go to homes if children don't attend school. That works if it is just a few kids. It doesn't work if there is mass public disobedience, which I expect will occur.

..also it allows for folks of all political stripes to come together. we have seen the recent strikes by teachers south of the border how powerful they became when they aligned with parents. there are accounts posted in the resistance to trump thread. yet another reason for placing the thread under activism it places enormous pressure on governments/mp's wanting to get elected next term. forcing say the ndp to take stronger stands for example.

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So COVID-19 has hit your school. Now what?

Ontario will not require a negative test result from students or education workers who contract COVID-19 before they are allowed to return to school, according to provincial guidelines released on Wednesday, but they must isolate for two weeks and be symptom-free.

When a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, their cohort (the group of students they are in direct contact with) will be sent home and the relevant local public health unit will provide direction on returning to school, the guidance for school boards said.

“Barriers to return to school, such as requirement of medical notes or proof of negative tests, should be avoided,” it said.

The guidance also said that in the case of an outbreak, public health will help determine if entire cohorts should be sent home or the school closed entirely.

The government said parents would be promptly informed if their children had potentially been exposed to the virus.

quote:

A separate document laying out the responsibility of public health units said they should consider shutting down a school if there is “evidence of potential widespread transmission.”

The guidelines are a key update to the province’s back-to-school plan, which has been heavily criticized for not allocating enough resources to keep students and education workers safe.

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..petition 243,586 have signed.

Ontario Demands Better: Reduce Class Sizes to Keep Schools and Communities Safe

The Ontario government’s “plan” for reopening schools essentially amounts, in most elementary and middle school grades, to sending 30 students and a teacher back into a room for 6 hours/day with poor to no ventilation and probably only enough space for 30 cm of distancing between desks. This is shameful and demonstrates a reckless and disturbing lack of care for the health and safety of our children, teachers, school staff, and communities.

We have evidence from countries and regions that went back to school in the spring to show that it CAN be done safely, without a surge in cases. The evidence suggests that the way to do this (along with other measures) is SMALL CLASS SIZES. Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, Greece, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and British Columbia offer examples of this:

https://nationalpost.com/news/back-to-school-about-a-dozen-countries-have-returned-kids-to-classrooms-what-canada-can-learn-from-them

https://time.com/5868098/schools-reopening-coronavirus-denmark-south-korea-israel/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=email-share-article&utm-term=world_global-health 

https://globalhealth.washington.edu/sites/default/files/COVID-19%20Schools%20Summary%20%28updated%29.pdf

Meanwhile, Israel offers an example of a country that went back to school with full-sized classes, and had disastrous results, going from well below 100 cases a day to over 1500 daily (see articles linked above). (Note: some point out that it is difficult to blame this increase entirely on schools reopening, since bars and other public spaces reopened at the same time. It is worth pointing out that in Ontario, schools are also set to open within several weeks of bars and other public spaces)......

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..from above

quote:

The most up-to-date report from Sick Kids on reopening Ontario schools stresses that the government MUST prioritize reducing class sizes (“COVID-19: Guidance for School Reopening,” https://www.sickkids.ca/PDFs/About-SickKids/81407-COVID19-Recommendations-for-School-Reopening-SickKids.pdf :

- “Addressing structural deficiencies, such as large class sizes, small classrooms and poor ventilation, must be part of any plan to reopen schools“ (pg. 2).

- “Smaller class sizes should be a priority strategy as it will aid in physical distancing and reduce potential spread from any index case… Decisions should take into account the available classroom space in addition to the number of exposures that would occur should a student or staff test positive… Where needed, the use of non-traditional spaces should be explored to accommodate smaller classes in order to allow daily school attendance. This may necessitate additional teacher/educational resources” (pg. 10).

The evidence suggests that with smaller class sizes, we might actually have a shot at remaining in school full-time this year. Even for a government that doesn’t want to spend its dollars on the public good - wouldn’t it be cheaper to spend the $3.2 billion now or whatever it will take (https://ontarioliberal.ca/steven-del-ducas-students-in-schools-action-plan/ ) and avoid the enormous costs to the healthcare system and the economy when this absurd “plan” fails?

As parents, grandparents, students, teachers, school staff, and community members, we DEMAND a back-to-school plan that we can trust to give us a chance at staying in school this year. Families must not be forced to choose between risking their safety and opting out of our publicly-funded education system.

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..from the Ontario Parent Action Network

#SAFESEPTEMBER DEMANDS

Schools can only safely reopen within a broader public health program that has successfully maintained low COVID-19 community infection rates. 

Governments must prioritize the safety of children and workers returning to class and expand social provisions such as affordable housing, food security, and strengthen rights to decent and safe work for all workers, instead of further lining the pockets of the most wealthy. Ontario can afford to fund safe, equitable, public education for our kids in September.

The Ontario Parent Action Network, Ontario Families for Public Education, and Ontario Education Workers United have developed a joint list of #SafeSeptember demands.

OUR #SAFESEPTEMBER DEMANDS:

1. Fully-funded 5-day in-class learning with 15 or smaller student cohorts. Parents who choose not to send kids to school, or in the case of further school closures, need adequate, guaranteed job protection and income supports. This will ensure a single weekly cohort for children. Additional staffing and space will be required such as the reopening of closed schools, and the repurposing of other community spaces. We will need to fight to keep these class sizes post-pandemic. 

2. Funded, safe, before- and after-school childcare centre reopenings which allow students to remain in their school cohorts. Funding to support a child care recovery plan as outlined in the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care Report “From Reopening to Recovery” https://www.childcareontario.org/from_reopening_to_recovery_a_plan

3. Safe Buildings: New funding for more custodians, PPE, cleaning supplies, and infrastructure repairs such as ventilation, sinks, and water bottle filling stations. 

4. Funding for Health and Wellbeing: Free food programs and a public health nurse for every school to support a plan to respond to COVID-19 symptoms at school in a manner which is both responsive and respectful of the children.

5. Student Support: Funding for increased social and learning supports for students and families such as educational assistants, social workers, and child and youth workers.

6. Worker protections: 21 emergency paid sick days and full status for all workers including parents and caregivers in Ontario. This is essential so that students with symptoms of COVID-19 will be able to stay home from school without barriers. Flexible working schedules for parents and guaranteed income supplements when work is affected due to lack of childcare, layoffs, or illness, or further school shutdowns. 

7. Addressing Racism: We support community demands such as those put forward by LAEN, BLM and Parents of Black Children and the TRC: Police-free schools across Ontario, K-postsecondary. Improved funding for Africentric and Indigenous programming and curriculum. Decolonized curriculum that addresses anti-Black racism, white supremacy, colonization, and all forms of systemic oppression & racism. 

8. Equity: Additional funding to allow school boards to address systemic barriers, and inequity as they plan to reopen schools. 

9. Housing Security: Provincial ban on evictions, and a funded strategy to house, with dignity, all in need of housing now. 

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..ontario

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Montreal-area kids back in school, parents and teachers nervous about it

As tens of thousands of Montreal-area children returned to class Thursday for the first time since the emergence of COVID-19, government officials spent the day trying to reassure parents and teachers following reports of a few infections connected to schools.

Outside Philippe-Labarre elementary school in the city's east end, many parents expressed mixed feelings about the return to class. There were happy cries of welcome as children were reunited with mask-wearing teachers, who directed them to walk under an arch made of balloons and into separate lineups.

"I think we all have a little bit of fear of what's unknown, but I don't freak out about it," said Cora Bridgeo, who has children starting first and third grade. "I have confidence in the government. I have confidence in our school system, they put a lot of measures in place."

The back-to-school period will test the government's pandemic plan, which has faced criticism from some doctors and parents' groups.

Already on Thursday morning, officials announced three employees at three separate east-end schools in Montreal had tested positive for COVID-19. Valerie Biron, a spokeswoman for the east-end school board, Centre de services scolaires de la Pointe-de-l'Ile, said the infected personnel were not in contact with students and immediately went into self-isolation.

The three staff members got tested on their own initiative, Biron said, "because they had either been in contact outside the school with an infected person or because they were experiencing symptoms." Biron said the board is asking employees of the three schools to get tested if they think they could have been infected.

A large teacher's union said Thursday there was a fourth case involving a staff member at a school on Montreal's north shore. Later in the day, a private high school south of Montreal sent an entire class home after learning a child's parent had tested positive for COVID-19.

Quebec's top doctor, Horacio Arruda, told a news conference he thought the private school, College francais, acted excessively cautious.

"I don't want people to think that every time there is going to be a case, particularly a case that is not in school, but who is a parent, we will stop education," Arruda, director of national health, said.

Back at Philippe-Labarre, officials said kids can expect lots of hand-washing, some mask-wearing and hallways and schoolyards sectioned off with tape to prevent extra mingling. Each roomful of kids will be kept in a separate bubble and masks will be required in hallways and in common areas for children in Grade 5 and up.

But Robert Gendron, a spokesman for Montreal's largest French-language school board, said in many ways things won't change.

"There will be a teacher with the same number of kids in the class," he said in an interview outside the school. "They will attend all the classes that they regularly attend. We will be able to transport the kids on the bus at the same level we're always doing."

The government has faced criticism from groups who say the plan doesn't go far enough and doesn't include a distance-learning option for parents who prefer to keep their children home.

More than 150 doctors and scientists also published an open letter this week urging Francois Legault's government to require social distancing within classrooms, mask-wearing for all students, and to oblige schools to screen children for symptoms of COVID-19.

Their voices have been added to those of parents' groups, who have expressed concerns over large class sizes, poor school ventilation systems and a lack of online options.....

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Toronto rally to push for paid sick leave planned ahead of back to school

​Teachers, parents and health workers will push for a permanent increase to the minimum amount of sick leave Canadian workers are entitled to at a rally in Toronto on Saturday, warning that without it, lower-income parents and education workers may not take time off.

More than half of Canadian workers do not get paid if they are too sick to work, with those most likely to forgo pay also often working in sectors that have become hot spots for COVID-19, including long-term care homes, farms, meat-processing plants, nail salons, and grocery stores.

“Those denied paid sick days are our patients working low-wage, precarious jobs and who are disproportionately women, Black, Indigenous and other racialized workers,” said Carolina Jimenez, a registered nurse and co-ordinator of the Decent Work and Health Network, one of the organizers of the rally.

COVID-19 data for Toronto has shown infection rates are much higher among low-income and racialized households.

The rally will be at the corner of Bloor and Dufferin streets in the west end of Toronto starting at 12:30pm. Other groups involved include the Ontario Parent Action Network, Ontario Education Workers United, and the Fight for $15 and Fairness.

They want all workers across Canada to have permanent access to at least seven days of paid emergency leave and another 14 days during public health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issue is a critical one to consider as schools prepare to reopen, since working parents without paid sick leave will have to choose between earning money to support their families and staying home without pay because they or their children have symptoms.....

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****PHONE SCRIPT****

Hello, my name is ____________.

I am calling to express my support for the Safe September Manitoba petition to:

[**Premier Brian Pallister**

Legislature building: (204) 945-3714
[email protected]

Constituency office: (204) 489-0828
[email protected]
----

**Minister Kelvin Goertzen, Minister of Education**
Legislature building: (204) 945-3720
[email protected]

Constituency office: (204) 326-5763
[email protected]
----

**Minister Cameron Friesen, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living**

Legislature building: (204) 945-3731
[email protected]

Constituency office: (204) 822-1088
[email protected]
----

**Minister Heather Stefanson, Minister of Families (and Deputy Premier)**

Legislature building: (204) 945-4173
[email protected]

Constituency office: (204) 487-0013
[email protected]

Your MLA.
Find their contact info here: https://www.electionsmanitoba.ca/en/Voting/MyVotingInfo ]

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Pondering

Quebec is terrible. They are not allowing parents to choose online learning for their children even though the materials all exist. They are insisting parents who want to home school kids have to do all or nothing and present a plan to the education ministry on how they will meet educational requirements. It is very difficult to get an exception even if your child has cancer or some other serious condition.

They should be encouraging anyone who wants to use distance learning to do so. This would reduce the number of children in buses and classrooms. Teachers who can't work in the classroom due to vulnerabilities could supervise some of the online students.

The goal of politicians is to maintain the status quo so nothing will have changed after this is over.

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Ontario teachers' unions file health and safety complaint

Unions representing Ontario's school teachers will each file a complaint with the province's labour relations tribunal over what they say is the Ford government's failure to take “every reasonable precaution” to protect education workers with its back-to-school plan.

The escalation of their dispute with the government comes after a meeting last week between Labour Minister Monte McNaughton and the heads of the four unions representing 190,000 teachers and education workers in public English-language elementary and secondary schools, Catholic schools and French-language schools across the province.

In that meeting, the unions say they asked for assurances that class sizes would be capped at 20 students and that no one attending school in-person comes into contact with more than 50 people, as well as adherence to ventilation standards and the ability for school boards to delay reopening until it is safe to do so.

While secondary schools are largely being restricted to 15-student classes conducted part-time, elementary schools will retain their pre-pandemic sizes, in many cases meaning rooms with 30 students seated less than two metres apart.

They say the demands are in line with measures put in place in other workplaces and public spaces in Ontario....

NDPP

Dear Premier Ford and Minister Stephen Lecce (and vid)

https://twitter.com/nada0971/status/1300516310225424384

https://twitter.com/parentaction4ed/status/1300215584559443969

"Here's an open video letter on the importance of smaller classes..."

 

Children May Be Significant Spreaders of COVID-19

https://www.technologynetworks.com/immunology/news/children-may-be-signi...

"...Infected children were shown to have a significantly higher level of virus in their airways than hospitalized adults in ICUs for COVID-19 treatment."

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Parents call on Manitoba government to make remote learning available for every student

Some Manitoba parents worry about the spike in COVID-19 cases and want to know why remote learning won't be an option for all kids going back to school, like it is in other provinces such as Ontario and Saskatchewan.

"We have such small classrooms, and I don't feel there is room to social distance," said Julie Allard, a mother of twin boys, Elijah and Malikah who are going into Grade 2.

The Dugald, Man., mother said she wants to have the option of keeping her boys home and do virtual classes instead.

"It's a risk and it's a gamble and I feel like we're playing a bit of a game here with our kids," she said.

According to Manitoba's back to school plan, children up to Grade 8 will return to class full-time, while high school students will do half of their learning online. 

The province says remote learning will be offered to students with compromised immune systems. Parents would also need to provide a doctor's note.

Parents want option 'to decide what's best for our children'

Allard wants to know why remote learning isn't an option for parents who are uneasy about sending their kids to school during the pandemic, similar to models in Ontario and Saskatchewan.

"I don't understand why this hasn't been an option here, why aren't we given an option to decide what's best for our children?" said Allard. 

She's now considering home-schooling but adds that can be costly. Allard said she would rather have her kids do virtual learning so they can stay connected with their teachers and friends....

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Little room for manoeuvre as UK Covid cases rise, say experts

The UK is at risk of a new surge of coronavirus infections, experts have said, as schools and universities reopen their doors and cold weather drives people inside.

On Sunday the government reported 1,715 new cases, the highest daily number since 4 June and the highest number for a weekend day since mid-May. On Monday 1,406 new cases were reported. Numbers collected over the weekend are often lower than those for other days of the week owing to lower levels of testing and reporting delays.

Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said Sunday’s figure was “quite a big jump”. He said data for the rest of the week would be needed to get a clear idea of the scale of any uptick, but the figures tied in to a broader trend of an increase in infections in the UK since early July.

Prof Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said: “What it clearly demonstrates is we’re in a position where case numbers are going up. So we don’t have much room for manoeuvre.”

Ferguson said the reopening of schools could lead to a further rise. “I think that will pose more stress and is likely to lead to a somewhat fast increase in case numbers. And then at that point there will be a need to make potentially some difficult decisions to get on top of it,” he said.

“We do need to have a system in place to respond to those outbreaks, to implement rapid testing in schools, and measures to control spread.”.....

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'We'll never be able to keep up': School custodians fear burnout, fatigue due to understaffing

School custodians in Ontario say they were already short staffed prior to the pandemic, and now, with additional COVID-19 related cleaning measures, they fear burnout and fatigue will compound the problem. 

"The microscope that we're going to be under should an outbreak happen is going to be tremendous, but we don't feel like we have enough of the resources," said Richard Brown, a custodian with the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). 

Brown said custodians are being asked to wipe down all touch points twice a day. Once a classroom has been emptied, to wipe down all touch points would take about two to four minutes, he estimates. Depending on the number of classrooms in any given building, repeating that task throughout the day in each room could add hours to a custodian's workload. 

Some elementary schools, which typically operate with only one chief custodian during the school day, have over 30 classrooms with 30 desks in each room, Brown said. To wipe down 30 rooms twice would amount to an additional two to four hours of work, not accounting for portables and common touch points in hallways like railings. 

Brown estimates that to comfortably meet COVID-19 cleaning requirements within the timeframe of eight hour shifts, the OCDSB would need to hire between 100-120 new workers. 

"Over the last 20 years, our department has been cut to the bone," said Brown. "Something has to give." ....

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Order saying Alberta schools won't have to enforce social distancing lands like a sucker punch

Whoever it was in the Alberta government that decided it would be a good idea to risk springing the news on the public that COVID-19 social distancing rules won't apply to classrooms just hours before schools reopen was seriously mistaken.

The United Conservative Party government's "near-normal" back-to-school scheme was already highly controversial, assailed as inadequate to the point of negligence by many teachers and parents.

The Kenney government's army of "issues managers" and press secretaries have been hiding behind the skirts of the chief medical officer of health, insisting the September start had Dr. Deena Hinshaw's imprimatur and was based on the best scientific evidence.

Anyone who suggested Hinshaw -- inevitably referred to by UCP-friendly media as "Alberta's top doctor" -- was making political decisions to suit the government's rapid-relaunch agenda was trolled as a tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorist.

The carefully nurtured if never quite official understanding that two metres of space would be maintained between all students and staff members was reassuring to many who were uncomfortable with the relaunch plans but wanted to believe the government was acting in their best interest.

So Hinshaw's initially unpublicized order Saturday that schools won't have to enforce social distancing when students are seated in their desks landed with the force of a well aimed sucker punch when it appeared in news reports yesterday.

Said the order: "An operator of a school does not need to ensure that students, staff members, and visitors are able to maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from every other person when a student, staff member or visitor is seated at a desk or table."

The reaction was visceral, and frequently appalled -- especially since it came too late for parents to reconsider their decision not to keep their children at home.

"I'm stunned by this reversal of physical distancing in classrooms by @CMOH_Alberta," tweeted Alberta Teachers' Association president Jason Schilling. "The Strategic Advisory Council, which provides advice to CMOH still suggests 2m., so what gives? This goes against everything we've been told for months."

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman, who was health minister in the Notley government, accused the government of changing the rules because there is no way its just-like-every-other-school-year reopening scheme can happen with social distancing rules in place.

Other comments were stronger, and considerably less polite.....

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B.C. teachers want federal funding used to help reduce class sizes

The B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF), a union that represents 41,000 public school teachers across the province, is urging the provincial government to use federal funding to reduce class sizes as schools gear up to reopen next week.

The union said it hasn't been consulted by the B.C. government yet about how $242.36 million in added federal funding will be allocated, as the Sept. 10 opening date fast approaches.

The province received funding from the federal government to help schools deal with reopening under heightened health and safety standards amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The union urged the government to use the funding to reduce class sizes, which it says will allow schools to properly follow social-distancing guidelines.

“We need to do things differently and that starts with making sure staff and students can actually achieve physical distancing in our schools and classrooms,” said BCTF President Teri Mooring in a statement on Aug. 26. “Under the government’s current plan, that physical distancing just isn’t possible.”

B.C.’s Ministry of Education said provincial funds had already been put to use for schools to get non-medical masks, hand-washing stations, physical barriers and cleaning supplies.

With the additional federal funding on top of their existing $45.6 million investment, the ministry said it is looking into enhancing cleaning protocols and increasing capacity for remote learning, but not increasing capacity within schools.

The province’s back-to-school plan has been described as “rushed” by the union. Two parents have taken the ministry to court, citing COVID-19 safety concerns in the lawsuit, with the hope of delaying the return date.

Teachers were also critical of a back-to-school public service announcement from the B.C. government, saying it was misleading parents regarding what classrooms will look like. The 30-second ad, which features the province’s health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, shows six students in a spacious classroom. In reality, teachers said, about 30 kids could be in one classroom.

In their recommendations for how federal funding should be allocated, the teachers’ federation said smaller class sizes are a priority, along with strict mask regulations and more funding for cleaning services.....

NDPP

'Practically All Children' Will Get Infected, Madrid Leader Admits as Schools Plan to Reopen Amid Spike in COVID-19 Cases

https://on.rt.com/apl9

"Over the school year it is likely that practically all children, one way or another,' will be infected with the coronavirus, Madrid regional premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso told esRadio in an interview on Wednesday..."

NDPP

How Can I Send My Kids Back To School Safely - For Them and Us? (radio)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat/how-can-i-send-my-kids-back-to-school...

'It will be a back-to-school season like no other.' Pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr Nisha Thampi talks to Dr Brian Goldman."

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Bus drivers prep for strike in Winnipeg's largest school division

School bus drivers who serve Winnipeg’s largest school division are moving ahead with strike action that will begin on Sept. 8, the same day classes are set to resume for the new school year.

UFCW 832, which represents 91 bus drivers in the division, said they met on Wednesday afternoon to start prepping for the strike.

“We truly feel for the parents here, but drivers are constantly being faced with increasing demands with fewer resources and compensation, and when you have an employer that’s being unreasonable, you have to stand up,” said Bea Bruske, UFCW 832 Secretary-Treasurer, in a release from the union.

Earlier in the day, a release from the WSD, which currently has 79 schools and nearly 33,000 students, warned of the strike.

The strike will impact around 2,300 students from across the province’s largest school division, WSD said.

Service will continue for students who are transported by wheelchair transport services.

quote:

UFCW 832 drivers have been without a new contract since July 2019.

The union bargains with the school division, but said it is the province’s terms of Bill 28, including a public sector compensation freeze for two years, that are at issue.

“Bill 28 was struck down in court, and while the Pallister Government is appealing the loss with taxpayer dollars, these terms are continuing to interfere with fair and meaningful bargaining,” the release from the union said.

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'Why don't they pitch in?': Ontario premier unleashes war of words with education union leader

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is ratcheting up his war of words with the head of one of Ontario's largest teacher unions, telling reporters that he would rather listen to doctors and epidemiologists than someone "with a degree in English literature who thinks he is a doctor."

Ford has been engaged in a prolonged dispute with the leaders of Ontario's four teacher unions over his government's back-to-school plans.

The unions have said that the plans fail to institute specific standards “around physical distancing, cohorting, ventilation, and transportation” and have vowed to file formal appeals with the labour relations board over what they say is a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

quote:

Bischof, who has an English literature degree from Trent University as well as a Masters of Arts and Bachelor of Education degree from Queen’s University, has been outspoken about the government's return to school plans in the past and last week took to Twitter to accuse Ford of "belittling educators."

He has also stressed that teachers only want the same safeguards as other frontline workers, such as a minimum of two metres of physical distancing in the classroom.

"No worker in the province of Ontario should be expected to sacrifice their health and safety, especially when there are such obvious measures the government could be taking to reduce the risk and prevent potential tragedies," Bischof said in a press release issued earlier this week.

Aristotleded24

Fear subsides as facts come out:

Quote:

Adrienne Ivey is a mother and an agricultural advocate in Ituna, Sask. and she recently took to Facebook to express how she feels about sending her kids back to school.

In the post, which has been shared online more than 1,600 times, Ivy detailed how she feels it's a problem parents are failing to address the all risks their children face, saying they've fallen victim to focusing on only one: COVID-19.

"During the Covid-19 lockdowns, it has been our children who have given up more than anyone else. Not only have we taken their social lives, their hobbies, and their sports," she said in the post. "We have halted their formal schooling, and put barriers up for their emotional and social skill development."

Ivey appeared on CBC Saskatchewan News at Six to discuss the post and her feelings about sending her kids back to school with host Sam Maciag, saying she's always been one to find the bright side in anything. 

"There are so many positives of kids going back to school," she said. "For my kids in particular, being out on the farm, they are craving social interactions with people other than their sibling and parents — so badly." 

Ivey said in her community, friends and family are excited to send their kids back to school and that there's a level of comfort since they know teachers and administrators have been working hard in preparation for the arrival of students. 

She feels parents need to have conversations about the risks associated with COVID-19 and the return to school, but also talk about the risks associated with keeping kids home as well. 

"My greatest worry is just the long-term effects of what these COVID shutdowns will have on our young people," she said, noting while the pandemic has been hard for everyone, children have had "everything taken away from them." 

"They have no sense of control themselves, so the sooner that we can get them in situations where they do have a sense of normalcy, whether it's school or sports, the better they will be in the long-term."

Here is the post in question in its entirety:

[quote:]

I am worried for my kids during Covid, but not for the reason the loud, vocal minority would have you think.

There has been an outcry here in Saskatchewan and across the country about various return to school plans. Shouts of “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!” or, “NO ONE IS KEEPING MY CHILD SAFE!!” can be seen across any social media platform you scroll.

The reality, is that many parents like myself ARE scared. We are worried for the safety of our kids. But not because of a decision about masks or timelines.

Every parent knows there is risk is almost everything for our children. Riding the school bus risks a crash. School sports risk injury. A school yard crush risks a broken heart. Walking home risks nefarious encounters. Simply turning a page risks a paper cut. And now, a return to school risks Covid-19.

Risk is not something new to school or raising kids in general. From introducing their first solid foods to witnessing their first steps (followed by their first crash to the floor), parents have assessed risks and rewards. The problem now has become that we are failing to address ALL risks, and have instead fallen victim to focussing only on one: Covid-19.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, it has been our children who have given up more than anyone else. Not only have we taken their social lives, their hobbies, and their sports. We have halted their formal schooling, and put barriers up for their emotional and social skill development. Although adults have given up much during these tumultuous times, what we have taken from kids will not only affect them today, it will affect them for their entire adult lives.

This week the Saskatoon Public School division made the decision to cancel all fall school sports. Cross country running, volleyball, and football - all gone. They vanished along with the hopes and dreams of so many athletic students. While I understand that all decisions are made with great difficulty in these extraordinary times, I fully believe that a decision like this can only be made without the students best interests in mind.

Canceling school sports (as well as public ones), is a selfish way of smoothing the path for the adults in charge. While it may indeed reduce the risk of Covid for those athletes, it refuses to acknowledge the balance of risk. The risk of increased drop outs, especially of teenage boys who only complete high school because of athletic programs like football. The risk of increased damage to mental health. The risk of a future population of adults who never developed the social and life skills that teams sports develop. The risk of a future Saskatchewan where all competitive drive, the very drive that makes Saskatchewan the powerhouse that it is, has been erased from it’s population.

As a parent, I assess risk every moment of my kids lives. My expectation of those in charge of schools as well as those I vote to lead our province is that they assess risks for myself and my children the same way. As a balance. A whole. A big picture.

Somewhere in all the yelling and outcries, that balance has been lost. The risks are not being assessed as a whole. The focus has narrowed to one singular issue. And our kids are paying the price.

It’s time to hold those in charge accountable for these decisions. Whether it’s our provincial government or school divisions, we vote to give the privilege of making decisions for us. It’s time for the moderate middle to find our voice. School matters. Sports matter. Our children most of all, matter.

- Adrienne Ivey

Edit: This post in no way infers that anyone should be forced or expected to coach. Or to play. But for the coaches who want to coach, and the players who want to play, let them!!

Also, this is not at all to single out school sports. This is about all sports, the regulations preventing them, and the trend to give up on sports instead of seeking a way forward.

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She feels parents need to have conversations about the risks associated with COVID-19 and the return to school, but also talk about the risks associated with keeping kids home as well. 

..parents are having those conversations. it boggles the mind that someone thinks otherwise. to not understand that the political and economic system that was so undemocratic, so brutalised peoples, carried out neoliberal transfers of wealth upward before the pandemic was not now transformed into caring entities.

..those very same systems/powers want parents back to work so the economy can get back on track is the reason schools are being forced to open. if those systems/poweres cared about the kids there would be distancing in the classrooms and all elements of schools. there would be masks for all that are able to wear one. that is not happening so parents and teachers are rightfully concerned. they are trying to have discussions with governments but there is no talking to the likes of our premiers who have other agendas. 

..without a step by step safety program that protects against covid you are throwing kids into a frying pan and hoping for a good outcome. this is a bankrupt intellectual notion. it reeks of desperation.      

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Notes from a teacher on #SafeSeptember

As a teacher in Ontario who is set to resume school next week, I’ve had a number of people ask me how I feel about our September return. So I want to share a few thoughts around the complexities and issues with our PC government’s plan to rush students back to school. 

Our communities need public schools 

Firstly, we should acknowledge that there are legitimate concerns about the mental health and wellbeing for children who can’t be together, and understand that a full return to school can help this situation. There are also families who can’t afford to keep their kids at home any longer, and it should infuriate us all that there hasn’t been more financial support for families at this time. Additionally, teachers love teaching, and we want to be with our students again the very second we can guarantee their safety and security.  

Unfortunately, the Ford government has not come through for our students or for anyone working in public education. Their rush to return on September 8 is putting everyone’s safety at risk. Teachers have been expected to make larger than life accommodations to their physical spaces with minimal budgets and no clear guidelines or practices that are standardized throughout the province. Some teachers still have yet to be contacted by their schools with their updated policies and protocols. 

If your school hasn’t been given enough funding for adequate sanitization and cleaning supplies, is an older building that has not been able to update its ventilation systems, has not been able to hire more teachers to accommodate smaller classes, has not installed sanitizers throughout the school, does not have enough adequately sized rooms for socially distant classes, etc. – then the safety of students can’t be guaranteed and students should not be going back there. Half days and student rotations can’t outrun a virus when the ventilation system in the school hasn’t been updated since the 1980s or when there are classrooms with no windows, as is the case in many schools across Ontario. 

Ford is failing us

Additionally, the Ministry of Education in Ontario – which in its latest gaf, tweeted that it did not know what an IEP (Individual Education Plan) was – has provided our public school teachers with very basic advice through online training modules. The ministry has suggested waiting at least one day before marking paper assignments that have been collected, and then waiting another day to then hand back those paper assignments. As if that step can make up for the fact that smaller class sizes are not guaranteed throughout Ontario and as if ventilation – which is one of the most important factors in stopping the spread of droplets – is irrelevant if you’re just washing your hands before marking papers. 

If your school hasn’t been given enough funding for adequate sanitization and cleaning supplies, is an older building that has not been able to update its ventilation systems, has not been able to hire more teachers to accommodate smaller classes, has not installed sanitizers throughout the school, does not have enough adequately sized rooms for socially distant classes, etc. – then the safety of students can’t be guaranteed and students should not be going back there. Half days and student rotations can’t outrun a virus when the ventilation system in the school hasn’t been updated since the 1980s or when there are classrooms with no windows, as is the case in many schools across Ontario. 

Indeed, education has been underfunded for decades, and we are now seeing the consequences of not maintaining and/or rebuilding these older schools, and not investing in teachers, EAs, and other education workers to ensure that we have smaller class sizes and clean and healthy schools. 

Despite Ford’s Safe School photo-op in Toronto on Tuesday, and his assurance that we have the “best plan in Canada”, four major teachers unions have filed a labour board complaint in an effort to reduce class sizes. Of course Ford has responded by saying that the unions just want to fight. However, anyone with an understanding of the cuts to education that the PC government has implemented knows that the unions are just drawing attention to the underfunding crisis that has now reached a boiling point. 

Other provinces and entire countries have gone back to school with minimal or mixed success at keeping COVID rates down, and it’s shocking that we are ignoring these examples instead of learning from them. 

The Florida Department of Education created detailed reopening plans for each county, but an accidental leak from the Florida Department of Health showed that from daycares to colleges, nearly 900 students had tested positive during a two-week period in August when schools were reopening. Indiana schools were told by their lawmakers that if they didn’t offer in person instruction, that they could lose funding, and they’ve had over 100 cases of COVID across dozens of schools since reopening. Sure, it may be easy to point to United State’s high rates of COVID and say that we are in a different situation in Canada, but even Quebec, which had some schools reopen just last week, has had at last three cases of COVID in their students which has now put more than 80 students in isolation..... 

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My three kids are going back into classrooms. As a parent with asthma and a heart condition, I’m afraid it may kill me

quote:

Yes, I do have options. I can keep my children home to spend several hours in front of a screen, or send them to crowded classrooms. But what’s become clear to me amid this confusion is that my younger two will not benefit from online learning. Away from their learning groups of peers — with teachers who have seen them grown up and know their strengths and weaknesses — I know that even if I shift all my working hours to evenings and weekends and somehow convince them to sit in front of a screen for several hours a day, how much will truly be retained is questionable. This leaves me with one option, and that’s to send them to school.

My kids are healthy, they are largely low-risk, however as more and more data is churned out by experts daily on this relatively new virus, it is becoming clearer that children, while low risk, are also great carriers.

There lies my problem.

I am a 41-year-old mother with asthma and an autoimmune disease. In addition, my heart was damaged after a flu I caught in 2017 — something I discovered while working in a busy classroom when I suddenly felt weak, was unable to stand up and passed out. I was brought by ambulance to St. Michaels Hospital. I still require ongoing cardiac care to this day.

These scares have taught me to try to live my life as safely as possible during this pandemic, but as I watch as COVID-19 case numbers creep up daily and consider the possibility of my kids being exposed to a minimum of 75 other children in close quarters, I worry about my chances. I go to sleep thinking about catching COVID-19 and dying alone in a hospital with only a screen to say my last goodbyes to my family via Zoom. It may seem dramatic, but if I catch it, my odds of survival under an overburdened health care sector don’t seem very positive.

Another factor? My partner works full-time in a school as an educational assistant in a different school board. My kids also have a blended family and their sister goes to another school in yet another school board. As keeping my kids away from either of their families is not an option, there is increased exposure and little to no direction about what to do if one of our schools has a case of COVID-19, or if we will even be told.....

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Most Manitoba parents feeling back-to-school anxiety: Free Press poll

Even with back-to-school right around the long-weekend corner, Rhonda Hinther still isn't sure whether she'll send her son to class or try to help him follow his curriculum from home — and she's not alone.

A majority of parents across the province are worried about Manitoba's back-to-school plan and worry the risks of virus transmission will increase as kids return to the classroom, a new poll from Leger and the Free Press found.

"Parents are absolutely concerned; they’re worried about the lack of physical distancing in the classroom, they're worried about class-size numbers, they're worried about their teachers, school staff getting sick and how that's going to be handled," Hinther said in an interview Thursday.

"It's really just a very difficult and frightening time for teachers, for students, for parents, for extended family, for community members who are really worried about what the fallout is going to be."

According to data from Leger's online poll, which received responses from more than 200 parents, 70 per cent of Manitoba parents are worried about their kids going back to school next week.

Households with higher incomes tend to report being less worried about sending their children to school. Of the families with incomes under $60,000, 83 per cent were worried about sending their children back to school compared to 65 per cent of parents with household incomes over $60,000.

The differences are split regionally, too; parents in Winnipeg tend to be more worried about the return to school — with 79 per cent saying they feel worried — compared to 59 per cent in the rest of Manitoba....

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Petition calling for changes to Manitoba's back-to-school plan garners 17,500 signatures

Parent-teacher advocacy group hand-delivers it to Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen

An advocacy group that isn't satisfied with the province's back-to-school plan hand-delivered a petition signed by 17,500 Manitobans to the Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen on Thursday afternoon.

Safe September MB, a coalition of teachers and parents who want a safe return to school during the pandemic, had been looking for signatures since mid-August.

The petition has eight demands, including ensuring physical distancing in classrooms, offering paid sick leave to teachers and substitutes, and providing an option for remote learning for families who want to keep their kids home. It is also asking the province to fund those initiatives by directing millions in federal money — earmarked for education — and spending any savings the province made during the 2019-2020 academic year.

"If you save the money during a pandemic, it's pandemic profits, I call it. You don't want to profit off a pandemic, you want to put as much as you can to support the long-term of these families, parents, children, educators," said Luanne Karn, a teacher in Winnipeg with 15 years of experience.

"The province has told other employers to be flexible when their employees are sick. But as an employer, they have not come up with any strategies to support [education assistants], clerical staff. Are they going to use up their [sick days] they get every year in quarantine?"

A mask mandate is also on the petition, but that was implemented while Safe September MB sought signatures. So Karn knows it is possible to implement some of the demands, she said.

She also pointed to the Louis Riel School Division, which has used savings to measure its classrooms and ensure there are two metres between students. Karn is unaware of any other school divisions which have done the same.

All school divisions will have to access a total of $100 million in Safe Schools funding, a spokesperson for Goertzen told CBC News in an email, after the petition was delivered.....

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..those very same systems/powers want parents back to work so the economy can get back on track is the reason schools are being forced to open.

Doug Ford and neoliberalism: ‘Opening Ontario’ by shutting down democratic process

quote:

Insulating neoliberalism from critique before and during COVID-19

The rhetoric employed consistently by Ford during the pandemic has echoed his political platform of “Opening Ontario for Business” by prioritizing the re-opening of the economy amidst a public health crisis. As detailed in previous Canadian Dimension articles, this has resulted in the continued undermining of health care policy and attacks on tenants to reconsolidate the power of landlords.

The rising role of public health experts and the medical community during this crisis has become a procedural thorn in the side of Ford’s plans for austerity and the implementation of neoliberal policies. Time allocation has still been used during the crisis, but barely due to a government clearly worried about criticism for ignoring the opposition and public health experts in an environment where increased attention is being paid to the government’s (in)actions. In fact, Ford reached career-high popularity during the pandemic for what many claimed was competency as premier, rather than for doing a ‘good job’ (bordering Trump’s American catastrophe obviously played into this).

This is why many were stunned when Ford tabled Bill 195, Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19), a law designed to remove the legal designation of state of emergency while granting the majority government the indefinite ability to pass laws using emergency powers. This removes all accountability procedures that are in place during a state of emergency and grants all of the powers to Ford that he can demand of the status.

quote:

While neoliberalism has consolidated a sort of permanent crisis state, COVID-19 and both its associated public health and financial crises has compounded this further. And while neoliberalism and right populism attack liberal democratic procedures and institutions, a public health crisis demanding fast decision-making can act as a camouflage for continued attacks against an already weakened welfare state.

Professor Tom McDowell understands this as part of the bigger picture of “neoliberal parliamentarism,” which is the use of procedure to accommodate and conceal the implementation of contentious neoliberal austerity policies. He argues, “The emergence of the crisis state has witnessed the withering away, and increased obsolescence, of traditional liberal political institutions, as the social contract from which they drew legitimacy is undermined and replaced with a more repressive state apparatus.” This more repressive state exists on the streets where protestors are attacked by police, online and in the real world where surveillance plagues our lives, and in government itself, designed to silence critique and resistance both within and without the state.

Aristotleded24

epaulo13 wrote:
..those very same systems/powers want parents back to work so the economy can get back on track is the reason schools are being forced to open. if those systems/poweres cared about the kids there would be distancing in the classrooms and all elements of schools. there would be masks for all that are able to wear one. that is not happening so parents and teachers are rightfully concerned. they are trying to have discussions with governments but there is no talking to the likes of our premiers who have other agendas.

Anybody who would shrug off the argument of going back to normal as being in support of big businesses who want to make money hasn't actually experienced the negative aspects of the lockdown. The fact is, the left has failed miserably on the coronavirus issue largely by amplifying the fear that is in the media. Of course people are scared to send their children back to school, because we've heard non-stop in the news that coronavirus is going to come and kill us all. The left usually understands this kind of fearmongering on the issue of crime and public safety, especially as used to advocate for such things as larger police budgets. I'm surprised that they are falling for this.

Yes parents are scared, but it's not this one-sided thing of all parents not wanting to send their children to school as the media paints it. There are a variety of opinions. And you're not going to make everyone happy. Whatever the standard is, it can't be as simple as "someone feels afraid" or "someone feels uncomfortable." If that is the standard,then we will never go back to school.

epaulo13 wrote:
..without a step by step safety program that protects against covid you are throwing kids into a frying pan and hoping for a good outcome. this is a bankrupt intellectual notion. it reeks of desperation.

That's bullshit. There is a great deal of evidence that children are not only at a low risk for a bad outcome, but also low risk for transmission. But that evidence has been ignored because it's become fashionable to ignore anything suggesting that the coronavirus threat may not be the big thing we think it is.

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..again ari you solely rely on fear as a driver without ever a dressing the concerns. i have 2 sons and i worry about them though they are 40 and 45. i will always worry about them as a parent. that does not prevent me from making objective decisions. you owe it to the parents and teachers to address those concerns and not brush them off as just fears. 

..as for the kids "low risk" you are not the arbiter of covid no matter how many posts you submit or times you say it. you don't respect people who have different opinions than you. you say bullshit. it's parents who will decide what is best for their children. not you. 

..in spite of me producing the neoliberal piece. the piece that can apply to any province in canada. the piece that lays out the priorities of opening up. you reject my statement outright. i suggest you've ignored the connections i've made. 

Aristotleded24

epaulo13 wrote:

..again ari you solely rely on fear as a driver without ever a dressing the concerns. i have 2 sons and i worry about them though they are 40 and 45. i will always worry about them as a parent. that does not prevent me from making objective decisions. you owe it to the parents and teachers to address those concerns and not brush them off as just fears.

I don't owe anybody anything. We have different opinions on the matter.

By the way epaulo, do you remember the airport screening measures put in place at Millenium library? They were put in place following a bunch of incidents that left people scared that they will be stabbed to death in the library. Or do you remember how Winnipeg used to spray a very toxic spray in the summer to stop mosquitoes because people are scared of West Nile virus? Do we need to address those fears as well?

epaulo13 wrote:
you don't respect people who have different opinions than you

And I've felt disrespected many times in the past of the last few months for expressing the view that covid isn't the threat that it is being made out to be. Looks like we're even.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..as for the left failing maybe you have a point. it is my personal opinion though that you don't. it's just another tool in your tool chest. i've seen you use it before.

NDPP

Teacher Protests Spread as COVID-19 Rips Through Schools and Universities

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/09/03/schl-s03.html

"Protests and job actions by educators opposed to the unsafe opening of schools have spread across the country as the drive to reopen public schools and universities has sparked a massive resurgence of COVID-19..."

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Looks like we're even.

..no we are not. you've been coming at this from a libertarian position..on a left leaning board.  

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