Windsor-Essex parents unsure how they'd like school to start in September

A survey of parents by the public school board in Windsor-Essex finds opinions split on how classes should be handled in September.

Public board survey of 15K shows many want kids back in class, but concerned for safety

Windsor-Essex's public and Catholic school boards are working on plans to return kids to classrooms in September. But the future still looks uncertain. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

A survey of parents by the public school board in Windsor-Essex finds opinions split on how classes should be handled in September.

About 15,000 responses came in to the Greater Essex County District School Board's survey. 

While many parents felt it's important for their children to be at school, others expressed worries about health and safety.

Teachers are also concerned.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) wants more government funding to step up cleaning, and achieve smaller class sizes.

"From a public relations point of view, they might say to parents, 'Things are fine,' but the front-line educators will tell you we usually put Band-Aid solutions on things and bear and brunt it," said Mario Spagnuolo, the local president of ETFO.

"We can't here. We're dealing with kids' lives. We're dealing with educators' lives. We don't want an outbreak in one of our facilities. That's a mistake that nobody wants."

The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board says it's still working on a plan, and has established a committee to guide that process.

There is no firm timeline from either board on when we may see those plans.

Pressure builds to find a back-to-school-plan

This week the Ontario government outlined plans for Stage 3 of reopening in the province as calls from Ontario parents, educators and public health experts come in for a plan to get kids back to school full-time come September. 

In mid-June, Education Minister Stephen Lecce told school boards to make plans for three different models of instruction for the fall:

  • Full-time in-class teaching with COVID-19 prevention measures in place.
  • Full-time remote learning.
  • A hybrid that would see half the school population in class each day and half learning online at home.

Lecce then told boards he expected they will start the school year with the hybrid model. The government has also said each school board will decide which model to use in consultation with public health units based on the local risk of infection at the time.

In recent days, Lecce and Ford have indicated they prefer to see kids in class full-time. 

"In order to be responsive to the risk ... we have to plan for all three circumstances," Lecce told the legislature on Tuesday. "The preference is conventional day-to-day delivery."

"We have to be prepared for all scenarios," Ford said Tuesday. "But our goal is to get every single child back in the classroom."

With files from Jason Viau, Mike Crawley


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