August 3rd, 2021

Horwath calls for Safe Schools plan to prevent disruptions

BRANTFORD — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was in Brantford Tuesday to call for a Safe Schools plan robust enough to prevent disruptions to in-person learning.

“Families are exhausted, kids are really struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, and teachers and education workers are burnt out,” said Horwath. “We need to make sure that when they return to school in September, it’s a healthy and successful return. If we prevent outbreaks and exposures, we prevent kids from having to be sent home again.”

Horwath and the NDP have been calling for a Safe September plan that includes smaller class sizes, improved ventilation with minimum standards, extra mental health supports, paid sick days for all parents, teachers and education workers and a strategy for vaccinating as many students as possible.

On Tuesday in Brantford, she was joined by NDP candidate, teacher and education expert Harvey Bischof, and Brantford dad John Steinberg. John’s son, Jack, starts Kindergarten in the fall. Jack has asthma and has already undergone a throat surgery.

“As a dad, having Jack in a small class, in rooms with improved ventilation, is critical,” said Steinberg. “We can’t vaccinate the little ones, so we have to make sure the government is investing in every other precaution it can. Having day cares shut down last year forced to me take time off work, and, like a lot of families, I can’t afford to keep doing that. For the sake of my son and my family, I need to know that Ontario is doing everything possible to prevent Jack’s class from being disrupted by outbreaks or exposures, and I definitely need a guarantee that I’m sending him into an environment that’s as safe as we can possibly make it.”

Bischof said Ford’s $800 million cut to education for 2021 is counter-productive when it comes to a Safe September.

“Now, more than ever, it’s time to invest in public education — not cut $800 million out of classrooms,” said Bischof. “Doug Ford has to make a choice. He can invest what it takes to get class sizes down, get ventilation standards up, and make sure parents have the paid sick days they need to keep kids with symptoms at home. Or he can keep trying to save a buck on the backs of students, teachers, education workers, families, and our province’s progress in the fight against COVID-19.”