The Legislative Assembly of Ontario remains adjourned and is scheduled to resume on May 12, 2020. MPPs must do this every 28 days to renew the emergency declaration and will sit for a reduced Question Period that morning. We understand the Ministry of Education remains hopeful to release the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) in early May and even as early as this week.
An in-year regulation amendment was recently made to implement the salary increases for both CUPE and EWAO employees. Similar amendments will be made to other unions and education worker groups when their agreements are ratified.
Education Week – May 4 to 8
May 4 to 8 is Education Week and Children’s Mental Health Week in Ontario. Education Week is an annual event celebrated by public school boards and schools across Ontario. Many OPSBA member boards are already highlighting the amazing activities and initiatives happening in schools, including the contributions of students, parents, teachers and education workers who promote and ensure student success and well-being at the local level. We’re taking this opportunity to encourage school boards to share their good news on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #OntEdTogether.
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to impact all aspects of life in Ontario, including the public education system. On April 26, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced that school closures would continue through to May 31, following his earlier announcements on March 31 and March 12 that all public schools in Ontario would be closed from March 14 through to May 4. Minister Lecce also sent a letter to parents on April 28. Further decisions regarding extending school closures into June will come at a later date.
On April 29, the government expanded the list of essential workers eligible to receive free emergency child care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those now eligible include people who work in the food supply chain, retirement homes, grocery stores and pharmacies, and certain federal employees, including the military. Since emergency child care was introduced last month, almost 100 child care centres have reopened, along with 40 Licensed Home Child Care Agencies, in communities across the province.
On May 1, the Premier announced more “businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak.” Included in this list is essential construction projects for colleges and universities, child care centres and schools. OPSBA will follow up with the ministry for further clarification about school construction.
- Changes have been made to Regulation 304: School Year Calendar, Professional Activity Days that now require all remaining 2019-2020 professional activity days and exam days to be used for instruction. The April 28 memo addresses this, as well as the fact that approvals for 2020-21 school year calendars remain on hold.
- Changes were also made to Regulation 7/07: Student Trustees regarding elections for two-year term student trustees. Elections were to be conducted by April 30 and these have now been extended until September 30.May 1, 2020 Deputy Minister memo re Student Trustee elections
OPSBA has posted education-related Coronavirus – COVID-19 information on our website.
On April 28, 2020, (OPSBA) announced the ratification of the tentative settlements that were reached with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario for both teachers and education workers on March 20, 2020.
Bullying in Schools and Anti-bullying Initiatives
On April 30, 2020, OSPBA sent a submission regarding Bullying in Schools and Anti-bullying Initiatives to the Minister of Education and senior members within the Ministry of Education. The submission was in response to the ministry’s earlier online survey for students, parents and educators. The Association’s two consultative working groups of trustees recently met via teleconference to discuss the consultation, sharing local board information, and contributed to the final document.
OHRC Right to Read Inquiry
The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) launched a survey on May 1, 2020 as part of its inquiry into human rights issues that affect students with reading disabilities in Ontario’s public education system. This survey is an opportunity for educators and professionals, including teachers, principals, tutors, pediatricians, speech pathologists, psychologists and social workers, to share their perspectives and provide information to help the OHRC understand and report on the experiences of students with reading disabilities in Ontario public schools. The OHRC says it will also help to assess whether public schools are using scientific evidence-based approaches to give students with reading disabilities meaningful access to education as required by the Ontario Human Rights Code.
Since the OHRC launched the Right to Read inquiry in October 2019, thousands of individuals have participated through a variety of feedback channels. The OHRC has also requested documents, data and information relevant to the inquiry from eight school boards it identified as a representative sample and from all 13 Faculties of Education in Ontario. The OHRC plans to release a formal report on findings and recommendations later in 2020.
- April 29, 2020 News Release – More Frontline Workers Eligible for Emergency Child Care
- April 28, 2020 News Release – Minister Appoints Investigator to Examine Peel District School Board
- April 2020 Newsletter – Ontario Ombudsman