Province has no plan to cut class sizes despite concerns
BARRIE, ONT. -- Mother of five Susan McLaughlin will likely wait until next semester before sending her children back to school.
"I feel like it's awfully rushed, McLaughlin says of province's plan. "All these kids in a small classroom…You don't know what their families are like, if they've been social distancing, staying away, where they go, how clean they are with things."
Despite calls from parents and educators, the government has no plans to reduce classes. The Education Minister is highlighting $30-million for school boards across the province.
"We've put funding in place to enable more hiring. We encourage the school board to utilize those funds to do that," Stephen Lecce said Friday.
When asked by CTV News, Lecce's office could not say for sure how much money the Simcoe County District School Board will receive.
SCDSB Trustee Chair Jodi Lloyd doesn't see the money changing the board's plans.
"In our board, reducing class size will be a challenge because we are at nearly 100 percent occupancy, so we don't have extra space, we don't have extra classrooms," Lloyd says.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit is working with schools and school boards to ensure students, staff, and their families are as safe as possible.
"We cannot make this a no-risk environment," says Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lisa Simon. "Certainly the potential is still there that someone is going to get COVID at some point."
"The benefits of being at school for children's' overall development really outweighs the low potential of COVID, particularly at this time when we have low rates of community transmission."
The SCDSB sent a pre-registration survey to parents Friday, allowing them one week to decide whether to opt-in to in-school learning or opt-out and choose distance learning instead. That will give the board a chance to organize classrooms and transportation ahead of September 8.