No, I will not be sending my kids back to school in September.

No, I will not be sending my kids back to school in September.

No, I will not be sending my kids back to school in Ontario this September and here are 3 of the reasons why. 

1. I do not trust the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce 

2. Premier Doug Ford is relying on his medical table when teachers can already pinpoint holes in, “the plan.”

3. Covid-19, the unknown longterm effects of the virus, scare me as well as the short term.

Melissa Debra, OCT

I do not trust the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce’s opinion, plan, or really anything he has to say when it comes to education.

There is no way I am accepting his plan to keep children in schools safe when he has NO experience in an actual classroom, none. Also, the fact that I am older than him, he has no children of his own, and he went to private school all factor in on reasons I am not a fan. In fact he began his political career working for Mike Harris, as a Deputy Director of Communications? I had to look-up what that job title even means because I had no idea. I am still unclear but one thing is for sure, his portfolio had zero to do with the education sector before he was named, Minister of Education, last year in July 2019.

“He [Stephen Lecce] did not hold a cabinet portfolio previously, but served as parliamentary assistant to Ford and two ministers.” 1

Slow clap? Stephen Lecce was an assistant before becoming the one now responsible for decisions that will effect the children, teachers, staff, parents, grandparents, and the neighbouring communities in Ontario schools. No – thanks. Whenever Lecce is asked very basic questions regarding his budget cutting, new Math curriculum, or the 15 student cohort (he promised in June 2020) 2 his answers are flippant at best with no actual answer to be found. This is not new though, since his very new appointment in July 2019, he often dodged questions that require an actual answer. 

Until Covid-19 forced the closure of Ontario schools in March 2020, our teacher unions were in a bitter battle with Ford, Lecce, and the Conservative government to: retain the current classroom sizes, stop the defunding of special education, improve the mental health capabilities within school boards (to name a few issues).

As Ms. Marit Stiles so eloquently put: “Over the last year, and as this [Conservative] government has created what I think it’s fair to say is chaos and confusion through many cuts to our education system” 3

The confusion continues as Lecce and Ford unveiled their plan for reopening schools last week.

4 weeks to prepare for homeschooling guide
4 weeks to prepare for homeschooling guide

Premier Doug Ford is relying on his medical table when teachers can already pinpoint major holes in, “the plan.”

I read the 32 page document released from SickKids and the updated, “COVID-19: Guidance for School Reopening,” JULY 29, 2020 4 left me with more questions than answers about sending my kids to school in September.

The entire section discussing the use of NMM (non medical masks) in our youngest learners (Kindergarten to Grade 3) is particularly problematic for me as there was not a consensus.

There was not full agreement among contributors on the need and role of NMM use in children in different circumstances. Given the current epidemiology, the use of NMMs is not recommended for elementary school students (agree 61%). A significant minority supported the use of NMMs when physical distancing was not possible (agree 33%) (pg. 12).

So why not err on the side of safety and require our littlest learners to wear masks during the day? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that denying the danger creates a false sense of security for parents. Maybe this way the class sizes of over 15 students won’t seem as unreasonable when in reality, “Researchers find COVID-infected children are major carriers, further complicating the school-reopening debate. 5

I just can’t get behind Premier Doug Ford when his own plan for Phase 3 of Ontario has requirements of :
“In all cases, individuals are required to continue to maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with people from outside their households or social circles”. 6 How can we ignore this safety precaution when it comes to opening schools? Is there some magic potion that will be readily available come September 1st? How about, “all businesses, services and public spaces when hosting an event are subject to indoor or outdoor gathering limits and ensuring physical distancing can be maintained” 7 Where will all the children safely go in classrooms of 15 or more students in the elementary schools? I can tell you that maintaining a 2 meter distance will be difficult in many classrooms and downright impossible within others, depending on how many students are in there. SO where did Stephen Lecce’s promise of no more than 15 students go? It is being honoured in high school, but why not elementary?

“The protocol we’ve unveiled does require that students be cohorted in groups of no more than 15,” – Stephen Lecce, June 19, 2020 8

For example, when students are in a 32′ x 24′ portable in order for this to be achieved, there can ONLY be 12 students in that portable. 16 desks gives 1.8 meters; 20 desks gives 1.5 m, 25 desks gives 91 cm. This is with NO furniture (images and information via @ryanimgrun and @patrickluckie.)

I am scared of the many unknowns surrounding Covid-19 and sending my kids to school in September

There I said it, I’m totally scared to send my kids out into a school when Covid-19 is still very active. As you can probably tell, I love data. There is something about numbers and information that really help calm my nerves when my anxiety filled thoughts are going into overdrive. The data does not really make me feel any better at this point but there does seem to be some hope with a vaccine.

 In the U.S., another vaccine candidate from biotech firm Moderna started its phase three clinical trial this week. This trial is recruiting 30,000 volunteers from 89 sites around the country to test the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccine, which would be a first of its kind if approved by the National Institutes of Health. 8

Reading about vaccines moving into the later stages of trials, does provide me with a tiny light at the end of the tunnel. The fact that people in Ontario have been wearing their masks inside public buildings, creating social circles, and considering government recommendations gives me a reason to step back and think about our progress. Since March when our schools were shut down and our worlds really got flipped upside-down, a lot has happened and I understand why parents are wanting to get their children back to school, I really, really do.

What I can offer is some shared resources that I am compiling in order to make learning from home a little easier. With all this craziness, I understand not wanting our kids to, “fall behind” their peers so I will be supplementing the home learning resources provided by children’s teachers with my own homeschooling activities that link to the Ontario curriculum. You can sign up here for our email newsletter and homeschooling resources, they will start to filter into inboxes in the next few weeks.

Overall, I want to thank you for reading this far. There is just so much information out in the world right now and I felt it was important to share why as a mom, educator, and germaphobe I have decided to keep my children home from school in September. My ultimate hope is that Stephen Lecce listens to us parents about class sizes needing to be kept small to help keep everyone safer. Premier Doug Ford needs to call a teacher who is actually preparing for school in September and listen to their safety concerns and implement plans to reduce stress for staff. To the volunteers testing out the Covid-19 vaccine, thank you very much.

To the parents, no matter what you decide to do come September, remember that we are all making difficult choices right now. As long as your child’s best interest is the heart of your decision making process that’s all we can do.

Loved is best,

Melissa Debra

Read here about why Covid-19 is making us feel so sad?

2 thoughts on “No, I will not be sending my kids back to school in September.”

  1. I’m with you! I retired in July, not because of the massive amount of work and planning it takes to teach effectively during a pandemic but instead due to my strong misgivings. I felt that I would not be adequately protected from the virus while teaching in school. Early on I was thinking about the impossibility of maintaining the 2m distance. I asked my husband, “What if I get Covid?” His reply: “I’m dead.” Teaching is stressful enough! I loved my career and I will miss my colleagues and kids but I am happy with my decision to move on! Good for you! Best of luck.

    1. Thank you for all your years of service to the kids 🙂 It is such a difficult time to be teaching, you picked a great time to retire! Thank you so much for reading and sharing, it means a lot, especially from a seasoned educator. Enjoy retirement!

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