Teachers’ union urging caution from Province regarding sending kids back to classrooms

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The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is urging the Province to exercise caution when it comes to sending kids back to classrooms in the fall.

A recent report from Sick Kids recommends prioritizing smaller classrooms to help facilitate physical distancing and help prevent the spread of the virus.

"While the Sick Kids report is recommending mandatory masks for older students, we are calling on the government to make masks a requirement for all students, particularly where effective physical distancing will be challenging," Sam Hammond, ETFO president, said in a news release. "If a region has declared masks mandatory for indoor spaces, then we expect masks to be mandatory in elementary schools in that region regardless of age."

"There was significant disagreement among the authors of the report regarding mandatory masks for elementary school students. The risks are too high. We need to keep students and educators safe and we certainly don't want schools contributing to a second wave of the pandemic," Hammond continued.

Further, according to the report, while the recommended distance for physical distancing is two metres, a one-metre distance could be sufficient enough to produce similar results.

"The government must be unequivocal in its plans to safeguard the safety and health of elementary students and educators. One-metre physical distancing is extremely concerning. Smaller classes that allow for two-metre physical distancing must be part of school reopening plans," Hammond said.

"With only a few weeks to go before school starts, students, educators and the public at large are anxious to see a real plan with the necessary investments to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our schools," he continued.

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