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OPSBA Statement Regarding the Return-to-School Plan

7/30/2020

“The safety of our students, staff, and school communities is, and has always been, our top priority. We know the pandemic has had an impact on the mental health and the lives of our children, and as medical experts have said, it is important to get kids back into school. 

School boards have been hard at work developing plans for multiple possible scenarios, and identifying areas where more resources or creative solutions are needed.  We are pleased to see the government acknowledge the need for funding in a number of the areas that we have previously identified as priorities, including Personal Protective Equipment and cleaning, mental health, special education, and training and professional development. We know from recent polling we’ve done with Nanos Research that Ontarians support investing in these priorities.

The current pandemic situation is fluid, and as such we encourage the government to maintain an ongoing dialogue with school boards to ensure that we are able to address new or unanticipated circumstances. Boards will continue to also follow the lead from their local public health unit partners to keep our school communities safe.

Many trustees have been speaking about the need for more public health presence in schools for quite some time, including mental health supports and public health nurses. These measures will enable school boards to better provide classroom environments that allow students to succeed.

We are pleased to see that 20 of our 31 member boards will be able to begin in the modified conventional model, and will support our 11 ‘designated’ member boards as they work through their adaptive models at the secondary level. We will continue to participate in plans for a full return to learning when possible.

I want to acknowledge the diligence and hard work of school board staff and trustees this summer in creating multiple plans for a return to the classroom. We appreciate the work of all those who contributed to the Sick Kids Guidance for School Reopening report released yesterday and continue to stress the importance of our students’ mental and physical well-being in addition to their educational development.

It has not been a usual summer by any stretch of the imagination and will continue to be a challenge for all involved in the system. We thank students and parents for their perseverance as we navigate the unknown road ahead of us. With expert guidance, diligence by all, and maintaining our focus on what is best for the well-being of our students, I am confident our students will be well-supported as we head into the fall.”

– Cathy Abraham, OPSBA President

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