'We're worried,' Parents, educators demand answers from Ford gov't about back to school plans
BARRIE, ONT. -- Parents, educators and students gathered outside MPP Andrea Khanjin's Barrie office on Wednesday demanding answers and concrete plans for back to school.
Elementary school teacher and former NDP candidate, Pekka Reinio lead the demonstration. "We do not want to see our schools be the next epicentre of a COVID outbreak."
"We need to have a plan that makes sure that it is safe," said Jen Hare, Simcoe County OSSTF Teachers' Bargaining Unit President.
The province appears to be moving toward a five-day-a-week return to school, and those rallying today said they fear for the health and safety of students and educators.
"We hear things like what if I get sick? What if I bring it home and make my husband sick? What if my kids get sick? Really and truly, there are people who are updating their wills," said Hare.
Khanjin issued a statement to CTV News that reads in part, "When I speak to parents, I hear that they want their children in class five days a week. This is a goal that our government shares.
Further, we all agree that having students return to school can only happen if it is safe to do so."
It was clear, however, that there is anxiety about being back in the classrooms for those demonstrating today.
"I hear from all sorts of parents, and they're all frightened," said Rita Golds-Nikolic, SMCDSB Educational Assistant Bargaining Unit President.
Elementary school teacher Kyle Tilley admitted he's concerned. "We're worried about getting the virus, worried about my daughter attending grade five."
Khanjin's statement aimed to assure parents and teachers that the government is taking steps to ensure everyone's safety. "The Ministry of Education is continuing to work closely with medical and scientific experts to implement protocols and resources that ensure our schools are safe."
The Ford government has said it's prepared to reveal a plan for September tomorrow.