The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) released a statement Thursday afternoon condeming the Ontario government’s March break plans.
All four unions say they strongly oppose postponing the week-long break.
“These are unprecedented times, and this is a much-needed break for students, teachers, education workers, and families who have been under tremendous pressure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” their statement read. “The government’s decision to postpone March Break does not take into consideration the mental health and well-being of those involved.”
The postponement of March break shows inadequacies in planning, they said. “If there are concerns related to travel and gatherings during March Break, these should be addressed by the government through other means.”
The unions called the government’s decision to postpone the break, despite their unanimous opposition “another example of this government ignoring experts and making decisions that are reckless and baseless.”
“The pattern the government has shown in making decisions while ignoring experts and the front-line workers that are most affected has only served to compound challenges.”
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce noted on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2021, that the decision was “made with the best advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health.”
According to Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Helath, local Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore did not consult with the province on this topic, and had no statement to offer on the subject as of Thursday afternoon.
While March break is delayed, economic reopening proceeds in various phases throughout Ontario this month.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 the final 730,000 students in Toronto and some surrounding regions will finally be back in class, after departing for winter break on Dec. 18, 2020. Those students have been learning remotely, from home, since Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.
In the Kingston region, students returned to in-class learning on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.
A Stay-at-Home order, lifted in the KFL&A Public Health region last week, expires in 28 public health regions in Ontario on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. For Toronto, Peel and York regions, the Stay-at-Home order will lift on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com