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Letter: Province’s plan to reopen schools leaves more questions than answers

MPPs seek briefing to get answers on urgent matters of public safety

Editor’s note: The following is an open letter to Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, on the safe reopening of schools.

As families across Ontario prepare to send their children back to school, we are greatly concerned that the Ontario government has not taken all the necessary public health measures to ensure that there is a safe return in September. 

We’ve heard from thousands of families who are worried that children will be at risk for getting COVID-19 because there is no provincial public health plan to address overcrowded classrooms. 

We’ve also heard from teachers and support staff who are worried about their health and safety as well as the ability to help students practise public health measures like washing hands, wearing masks, and keeping six feet apart. 

Teachers and support staff tell us that they are worried about their health and safety and the impact on their own families. 

While the Ontario government has encouraged school boards to develop their own plans, we believe that Ontarians need stronger provincial leadership. Therefore, we are interested in your assessment on what you deem are the necessary steps that the Ontario government must take to ensure that all schools can implement public health measures. We also would like to know whether the province has developed a school surveillance plan for early detection and contact tracing should COVID-19 circulate in schools, as we’ve seen happen in other jurisdictions. 

Can you please clarify whether the Ontario government is implementing your advice as the province moves forward to re-open schools? Please note that we have asked for a briefing on this issue since the end of June. To date, we have yet to receive a response for this request. 

Given that it’s an urgent matter of public safety, we would appreciate a timely response. 

France Gélinas 
NDP Health Care Critic

Marit Stiles 
NDP Education Critic