NEWS
08/17/2020 14:41 EDT

Teachers, We Want To Hear Your Back-To-School Concerns

Back to school in a pandemic means teachers will be on the front lines of potential exposures — and helping keep kids safe.

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In many ways, school staff will be the new front-line workers as the pandemic continues into the fall. 

There’s a lot to think about when kids head back to school in a normal year. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an entirely new set of challenges and considerations. 

Depending on their province and grade, some students will have to wear masks. Others will be placed in small groups — called “cohorts” or “bubbles” by some provinces — with the aim of preventing transmission of the virus. 

In Ontario, class sizes are a big concern from parents, with over 200,000 signatures on a petition to reduce class sizes. Four of the province’s major teachers’ unions allege the province’s back-to-school plan does not provide adequate health and safety protections

Meanwhile, the province has announced it will give $500 million to increase spacing in classrooms and improve ventilation in schools.

WATCH: Ontario government unveils back-to-school plan. Story continues below. 

 

“There’s no democracy on earth with some exception really that hasn’t had challenges getting children back in [school] and I think that’s an admission that we have to be flexible, we have to be evidence-based and we have to be listening,” Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said at a press conference Friday.

The back-to-school plans mean challenges and questions for everyone involved in education. 

Teachers and school staff will have to accommodate for physical distancing within classrooms, and may also have to adapt lessons for students who are learning remotely. In many ways, school staff will be the new front-line workers as the pandemic continues into the fall. 

Some school boards have differing guidelines for supply teachers. Some, like the Ottawa Catholic School Board, will try to assign supply teachers to the same school, but some boards haven’t released much information on their plans for this.

British Columbia had a trial run of reopening schools in June, which Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, says will help with their plan for September. 

“We’re all anxious about this,” she said at a press conference earlier in August.

“School is such an important environment for our children, and it’s something that we need to find a way to make happen in a way that supports them.”

As we approach September, HuffPost Canada wants to hear from teachers.

Do you feel safe going back to school in September? Where are the gaps in your province or school board’s plan? Will those plans protect the students you teach?

If you’re a teacher or education worker please fill out this form to the best of your ability. 

You can follow this link if you don’t see the form below.