Ontario parents, teachers and coaches want full return of school sports

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Many students, parents and coaches hope to resume fall football, but they await approval from the Ontario government. (Football Newfoundland and Labrador/Facebook - image credit)
Many students, parents and coaches hope to resume fall football, but they await approval from the Ontario government. (Football Newfoundland and Labrador/Facebook - image credit)

A letter signed by 160 parents, teachers and coaches across Ontario calls for the provincial government to commit that students will be allowed a full return to play in September.

The letter outlines a number of concerns, including the mental and physical health of students, who have had to put school sports on pause for the majority of the last two school years.

"It's important to students of Ontario," said Kanata high school teacher and football coach, Peter Thomas, who helped write the letter.

"They've given up more in-class instruction than literally any jurisdiction in the world."

Lisa Morrison of Ottawa, whose three sons play elementary and high school sports, didn't sign the letter before it was sent to the province, but she expressed her full support of a return to play in the fall.

Morrison said her sons have struggled without the outlet of school and sports, both of which she believes are safe given the drop in COVID-19 cases, and rise in vaccination rates.

"I think just that ability to have fun and see your friends and be active is just ... it's priceless," she said.

Submitted by Lisa Morrison
Submitted by Lisa Morrison

The letter goes on to state how the pandemic has highlighted "the numerous inequities many of our students must overcome" and limiting school sports in the fall "would only serve to further exacerbate those inequities."

"Those with the means will be able to pay for extracurriculars elsewhere, those without will have to suffer another year of missing out," it reads.

Full guidance to come in July

The letter calls for the Ontario government to publicly commit to a full return to school and high school sports before the end of the current school year.

Parents, teachers and coaches want "clear direction" on "thresholds that would roll back or prevent a full re-opening" as well as details on contingency plans if there are widespread cases, it adds.

"There's never going to be zero risk but at some point, the risk can be mitigated and we can go back to play," Thomas said.

"What we need to do as a province is to do everything we can to mitigate all the risks."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ontario education minister Stephen Lecce said full guidance will come in July.

"It is our full intention to deliver the most normal, stable and safe September for students, which includes extra-curriculars, sports and clubs," wrote Caitlin Clark.

Thomas said a decision should be made as soon as possible if there are measures that require some preparation, such as needing a certain percentage of teams vaccinated.

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