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OPSBA statement regarding the 2021-22 Health, Safety and Operational Guidance for Schools plan

8/3/2021

The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association welcomes today’s release of a return-to-school plan for the upcoming school year. We are pleased to see the government has acted on the guidance of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and experts from Ontario’s world-renowned hospitals.

Throughout the summer, and in partnership with local and provincial public health authorities, school boards have been focusing their work on ensuring a return to school that provides students with a supportive and engaging learning environment that mitigates the risks of COVID-19 and its variants.

We know the pandemic has had an impact on the mental health and well-being of our children, and as medical experts have said, it is important to get children and youth back into school. Hopefully, most students will be returning to in-class learning this September as we look to get back to an experience resembling a normal school year routine, with extracurriculars and fewer disruptions. We are looking forward to continuing the dialogue about moving fully to normal in-class learning models, once relevant metrics are available.

Our Association will be tracking spending and connecting with boards regarding ongoing COVID-related costs, including improved ventilation and filtration, PPE and cleaning, and the installation of HEPA filtration systems in classrooms and common areas. The government must ensure school boards are fully financially supported for these extra expenditures.

To reduce the number of cases of COVID-19 in our community, and in our schools, we continue to encourage those who are eligible to get their first or second COVID-19 vaccine doses. There is still time to get some protection before school starts.

In many ways, the importance of our public education system has never been more evident than during the pandemic. We thank our students, parents, guardians, teachers, and all education workers for their extensive contributions in this difficult time.

– Cathy Abraham, President

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