Ontario NDP leader calling for smaller class sizes during stop in London
LONDON, ONT. -- Ontario Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath was in London Tuesday morning calling for smaller class sizes for students heading back to school.
Howarth, leader of the provincial NDP, was speaking at Eagle Heights Public School, an elementary school in the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB).
Howarth says that Premier Doug Ford has not created a sufficient return-to-school plan for students.
“There's no way we should be down to the wire like this, let's face it everyone knew school was going to start in September,” she says.
Horwath is also calling out the provincial government for allowing hefty class sizes during a pandemic.
“The (school) board is doing its best to keep students safe, but it's not going to work if you keep cramming 30 students into a classroom, which is what Ford is expecting them to do."
Horwath suggests sourcing other classroom spaces and only allowing 15 students in one classroom at a time.
Craig Smith, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federeration of Ontario (ETFO) Thames Valley Teacher Local, says he is also looking for some guidance when it comes down to the numbers.
“Kindergarten you can have a class of 30, primary classes can go up mid 20s…we have large classes which is going to make social distancing almost impossible in some circumstances,” says Smith.
When it comes to the use of masks in schools, it’s mandatory for eligible students in Grade 4 and above. The London Catholic District School Board and the TVDSB are meeting Tuesday night to decide if masks will be mandatory for younger students in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
In a statement Horwath added, “Eagle Heights Public School in London has done absolutely everything it possibly can do to make kids safe. They installed hand washing stations, signage and floor markings. They’ve worked hard on student timetables, and spread desks out as far as they can.”
She continued, “But the biggest missing piece of the puzzle is smaller, safer class sizes. Doug Ford just will not give them - or any school - the support they need to get the job done, choosing to pinch pennies by sending kids back to crowded classes in crowded schools.”
Eagle Heights has one of highest populations of students within the board for an elementary school, and was one of the schools selected for a pilot project for social distancing measures over the summer.