QUEEN'S PARK – NDP Education critic Marit Stiles released this statement in response to Education Minister Stephen Lecce's learning update:
"Our kids need safe classrooms, not permanent online learning.
Today's update from Stephen Lecce shows that he’s not really trying to make classrooms safe to return to, and indicates that he and Doug Ford have given up on Ontario’s children and youth. In fact, they are looking for ways to make online learning a permanent fixture, to save money off the backs of our children.
This is despite the fact online learning has been horrible for so many families. It's hurt kids’ mental health. It’s hurt learning, achievement, and grades. It’s forced parents – especially women – out of the workforce. It’s been a brutal juggling act for teachers and education workers, and it’s made the playing field very uneven – kids that don’t have their own space and computer with high-speed internet, and kids with disabilities, have suffered disproportionately.
We know Doug Ford doesn’t believe in investing in education. He made that clear with a brutal budget cut to education in 2019, putting us on the path to fire 10,000 teachers and education workers. And this year’s funding - announced today - is a shell game, refusing to replenish school board and reserves and failing to provide the consistent, increased funding and support our students so desperately need.
The majority of families want schools to be made safe, so kids can go back to safe, small, in-person classrooms, and spend time with their friends, teachers, and peers. The NDP will continue to push for COVID-safe schools including capped classes, better ventilation and upgrades like touchless faucets, more and permanent mental health supports, and classes capped at 15 for safety and better one-on-one attention.
Our children, parents and education workers deserve safe schools so they can go back to in-person learning as soon as possible.”