School’s coming and we don’t what to do about it.

The province is elated, as we continue to roll into stage 2 reopenings across the land. Today Ontario announced that Leamington county can now reopen. Congrats.

However, there is still the nagging question of what is going to happen come September. Labour Day weekend is looming. This year rather than mark the end of summer, it’s a deadline for homework that no one seems to be doing. School is opening. Yet no one knows what will be required just yet to ensure our children are safe and that we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

By now you should’ve come across the opinion piece in the Globe and Mail by Lauren Dobson-Hughes. If you haven’t here it is. There is also this terrific Twitter thread by Alex Usher:

The crux of all of it is that we aren’t properly planning for a post COVID-19 world. Ms. Dobson-Hughes is absolutely right. We can’t expect to have both parents return to work if half the time someone needs to stay home to look after their school aged children. If we want to properly reopen our economy, then we need to look at a massive expansion of our education system. Hire more teachers and look into utilizing public buildings as classroom space.

Of course this is all anathema to conservative ideology. If you can remember prior to this pandemic, Min. Lecce was three months into rotating teacher strikes over cuts to education. The irony that it is becoming apparent that more investment in our education system and the hiring of more teachers is looking like a solution to our problem, seems to be lost on him.

Passing the buck is the mantra of government these days. Rather than take leadership and provide solutions to very real problems, Min Lecce along with Premier Ford has simply delegated to boards to come up with solutions. With a deadline of August to present the plan to the Ministry, it doesn’t leave a lot of room to maneuver. Personally I don’t see a plan that may involve massive investment in broadband networking to be introduced in old schools not costing millions if not billions. Forget the question of child safety online should webcam teaching be the decision of a board. What if the Ministry is not prepared to give the necessary monies to the various boards across the province? Will boards be able to amend their plans accordingly with less than a month to go? These are legitimate questions that again are being shrugged off by our province’s leadership.

If Premier Ford is serious about getting Ontario’s economy up and roaring, then he needs to settle parents very legitimate concerns about the education system. School’s first and foremost must be safe for the children who attend them. Min. Lecce’s passing the buck to the boards doesn’t invoke much confidence in our system. Rather than show dedicated leadership to the task of making our system the safest it possibly could be, he has retreated to his pre-COVID-19 self. Making grand proclamations about how he is fixing the mess of the Ontario Liberal government for the betterment of Ontarians.

Read the room Min. Lecce. The very top priority of every parent in the province is the safety of their children and a stable system for them to attend. That should be your legacy. Creating an education system for the COVID-19 era. That provides safety to children, supports parents and is stable. Instead you’ve shrugged off the credit you could get to the various boards around the province, and have set yourself up for grand failure. This is your shot Min. Lecce and you’re blowing it.

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