Opening Schools in the GTA
Wed May 26 2021
I am a high school teacher with elementary school-aged children. I teach in a hotspot neighbourhood in North Toronto where my students do not have the home support needed to be successful in education and they do not do well with virtual school. All this being said, they also have not been vaccinated and although I cannot speak to their families vaccination status, nothing has been communicated to us about this. I do know that my students went to beach parties and various gatherings on Victoria Day weekend.
Opening GTA high schools for a total of 20 instructional days is short-sighted and will threaten the summer break. Students will be forced to quarantine because there will be inevitable exposure and spread (see above about beach parties).
My own children attend an elementary school in Toronto. Their school closed before the spring break due to confirmed in-school transmission. Nothing has changed in this school in the way of ventilation, air conditioning, smaller classes, and all the other safety measures suggested for an respiratory pandemic. I am not confident that students can return in June safely without jeopardizing the summer. As much as I would love to be back in class and have my own kids back in their classes, I really think that opening schools for 4 weeks will do more harm than good.
Past data has shown that cases increase weeks after schools open, and yes more people are getting vaccinated, but as an education worker I have only had one dose and am not scheduled for #2 until August. Do I want to be in a classroom with students who I know have gone to parties last weekend? Are teachers that expendable? The real damage of opening schools will not be known until 4 weeks after the fact, so we will be into the summer break and dealing with a guaranteed 6-11% rise in cases, as modelling suggested. Why is this ok with the government? Make it make sense.