No argument in Sudbury about provincial decision to keep schools closed until September
Safety cited as number one reason not to reopen
A Sudbury parent is relieved that schools will not reopen this year, and a teacher says she's not surprised by the decision Tuesday to keep schools closed because of the pandemic.
Meredith Coulas teaches grades 2/3 French Immersion at Lansdowne School and says the realization that the school year is over is bittersweet.
She says they left in such a hurry.
"Their desks are still full," she says. "Their jackets are still on the hooks. Their shoes are still on their desks. It's sort of like things didn't end."
Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday that the buildings will remain closed and online learning will continue.
"The safety of our children is my top priority," Ford said. "We cannot open schools at this time, I'm just not going to risk it."
Schools have been closed since March 13.
Ford says a beefed-up province-wide online learning program will continue through the summer and report cards will be issued for this year.
He says those on track to graduate from high school before classes were shut down in March will be able to graduate.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce plans to release a blueprint for reopening in September by the end of June.
"It is obvious that schools will not look the same, that we will have to reimagine education in some respects in September given that there will have to be some protocol changes," Lecce said.
NDP calls for child care support
Ontario's NDP Education critic, Marit Stiles released a statement.
"Schools should remain closed until it's absolutely safe for kids to return, so we support the move to keep kids at home for the rest of the school year. But parents are now being called back to work while schools and child care centres remain closed. That's a major gap that will leave households all over the province with no options for child care, and the government needs to step up with a plan and tangible supports for those parents.
Childcare is not a concern for stay-at-home mom, Meagan Naegelkramer of Sudbury. She has three daughters, aged nine, 11 and 13.
She is very happy that classrooms will remain shuttered for the health of her children.
"I'm very thankful and they made the right decision in my opinion, because you're unable to tell how you can maintain social distancing and the proper amount of cleanliness in the school and with the children," she says. "You need to have a safe environment.
She is hoping for smaller class sizes when schools do re-open, and smaller, one-on-one classes for special needs children like one of her daughters, who has autism.
Naegelkramer says she's not concerned her children will be set back academically with the loss of classroom time this year, and trusts the teachers who say that the online learning coupled with pro-active strategies next year will help them keep up.
As for Lansdowne teacher, Meredith Coulas she says participation in virtual, online learning is dropping as the weather sweetens, which concerns her.
So too does the task of writing report cards based on a school year that really ended before the March Break.
But most of all she is concerned about safety and hopes the province's plan to reopen takes all medical advice into consideration.
"The pictures I've seen from schools that have opened, that's scary, that's not how I teach, and that has some anxiety surround it as well."
Coulas wants the province to make sure schools will be safe for her and her family as well as her students.