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Reaction pours in for new schools announcement from Ford

Reaction from ETFO President Sam Hammond and MPP David Piccini
empty-classroom
Stock photo.

It's official -- schools will not be reopening for in-person learning in the spring.

This is news that did not go down well with Ontario's elementary teachers -- who were hoping to hear instead about a safe reopening plan for schools.

"The other thing we were hoping to hear.. was that they had a comprehensive vaccination plan for all education workers and essential workers to ensure that sooner rather than later, everyone was vaccinated," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "We didn't hear either of those things."

He told Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS he is dumbfounded by Ford's announcement.

"Like so many other press conferences where there is no actual data, in this case in particular, there were so many experts providing the premier with advice and he was ignoring it."

MPP David Piccini, who is a Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said Ford's decision was necessary -- and that there are also some positives to be considered from the announcement.

"That promise that we continue to see every time another Ontarian gets a jab in the arm, now over 9-million Ontarians, gives us light at the end of the tunnel. This is amidst the backdrop of the B1617 variant, which is up to 30-40% more transmissible."

He noted there are a number of added risks to consider in Ontario.

"Ontario is the only province with 2-million students in the system. We have 15-million people. We're the largest province in the nation."

He added we also need to assume higher risks because of the international airports located in Ontario, with thousands of foreign travelers coming in.

Hammond countered that Ford has received consensus from medical experts, the Science Table and his medical officer of health that schools can safely reopen on a regional basis -- advice Ford chose not to take.

"And again the Premier has ignored that input. He keeps saying that he's waiting for advice from the medical officer of health and the Science Table, while they and so many others gave him advice last week and he has just overlooked it."

Piccini argued there were a lot of medical health experts who agreed with Ford's decision as well.

"Everybody can spin the wheel of epidemiology and get something that supports what they want. I can counter that -- the head of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario came out in support of the government's decision with respect to schools."

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