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Guelph MPP calls province's back-to-school plan 'reckless'

Schreiner concerned over lack of small-group learning for elementary students
MPP Mike Schreiner speaks to Guelph elementary students in 2017. GuelphToday file photo

Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner calls the province's plan to not reduce class sizes in elementary schools when they reopen is "reckless."

"It was the government’s job to hire more teachers and acquire more space to enable small group learning of 15 students or less," Schreiner said in a statement shortly after the Premier Doug Ford announced reopening plans on Thursday.

"But the Premier has forgotten about the principles of physical distancing in his reckless plan that retains large class sizes for elementary students."

Secondary school students will see class limits of 15 students, elementary schools will not.

“The Premier’s math is once again way off if he thinks that $309 million will be enough to adapt our education system to a global pandemic. Today he showed that he is unwilling to make an investment in a safe place for young children to learn in September."

He said Doug Ford followed advice to restart full-time learning for elementary students, but he totally ignored advice to reduce class sizes to keep kids safe.

Schreiner said it's unfair to ask parents to "choose between work or their children’s safety" by sending them to a jam-packed Kindergarten class of up to 32 students, which is allowed under Ontario’s regulations.

The province said on Thursday that the average size of an elementary school class in Ontario is 20 students.

"I’m also disappointed that there is not a single mention of outdoor education, which should be a pillar of the back-to-school plan," he said.

"Premier Ford has given educators no resources to implement outdoor learning and maximize parks, school yards and natural areas as safe classrooms.”