January 6, 2021

ETFO’s Update on Reopening Schools

January 6, 2021
To ensure you hear it from your union first, we are writing to share ETFO’s position regarding the government’s plan to reopen elementary schools in Ontario on January 11, 2021.
Over the past few months, we have seen COVID-19 cases grow at an alarming rate. Despite repeated calls for adequate safety measures from unions, educators, parents and health experts, the Ontario government has refused to implement or fund necessary solutions. The government has also failed to contain the spread of the virus across Ontario. This failure continues to jeopardize the health and safety of students, educators and communities.
Ontario is currently at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. ETFO has significant concerns about the health and safety of educators and students if they return to in-person learning on January 11, particularly in those communities where the rate of transmission is high.
ETFO is urging public health units to use their authority to reverse the decision to resume in-person classes for all elementary students on January 11 particularly in communities where the rate of community transmission is high and where other extreme public health measures have been deemed necessary.
This letter has also been shared with school boards to inform the employer and a subsequent letter will be sent to the Premier and Minister of Education.
Despite this action, our union’s position on in-person teaching remains unchanged. ETFO firmly believes that in-person instruction in publicly-funded schools provides the best experience for learning, quality delivery, and is the most equitable model for all students.
While ETFO continues to advocate for improved safety measures in all classrooms, it is our hope that public health units will intervene in those areas of the province where we are seeing the most significant spread of COVID-19 by issuing an order to delay the return to school.
ETFO recognizes that this continues to be an incredibly stressful and difficult year for all of you as educators and parents. Shutting down in-person learning adds extra pressure on members, particularly those who have school-age children. We will continue to press the government to provide support to parents and families and to account for the childcare needs of educators and front-line workers.
You have been doing incredible work supporting your students and ensuring our public schools are as safe as possible. Please know that your union will continue to work to support you to the best of our ability. If you need support reach out to your local or the provincial office for assistance.
Please help to share ETFO’s reasons for this urgent request.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario | etfo.ca