York Region DSB Is Dealing With Racism In Schools Amid Coronavirus Concerns
A petition was created by concerned parents.
York Region District School Board is warning of the threat of racism as the first two presumptive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Toronto. Since then, the school board has revealed that it is working on battling racism within the board, as it was revealed that both patients had recently travelled to Wuhan, China.
According to Newstalk 1010, news of the outbreak has caused concern among Toronto-area parents. Some have even gone as far as to create a petition demanding that families who have recently travelled to Asia "self-quarantine" themselves.
CTV reported that the principal of Markham private school, Somerset Academy, issued a warning to families who have travelled to Asia, telling them to "stay home for a minimum of 15 days."
"To avoid any member of our Somerset Academy family from getting sick with this illness, we are asking that all families who are currently away from school and are in Asia or are planning to go to Asia, to understand that you will not be permitted back into Somerset Academy or Yips until you and your family have been home from your travels a minimum of 15 days from the date you have landed back in Canada," the letter stated.
According to a Canadian Press article published by Global News, the board chair and director of education said that such letters "run the risk of 'demonstrating bias and racism,' even when made in the name of safety."
Members of the York Region School Board later sent out a letter cautioning parents against taking any sort of action that could be considered "xenophobic" or racist.
"While the virus can be traced to a province in China, we have to be cautious that this not be seen as a Chinese virus. Those who are afflicted or are potential transmitters are not just people of Chinese origin ... At times such as this, we must come together as Canadians and avoid any hint of xenophobia, which in this case can victimize our East Asian Chinese community and we must rely on our shared values of equity and inclusivity," reads the message.
"We are aware of an escalated level of concern and anxiety among families of Chinese heritage. Situations such as these can regrettably give rise to discrimination based on perceptions, stereotypes and hate. Individuals who make assumptions, even with positive intentions of safety, about the risk of others, request or demand quarantine can be seen as demonstrating bias and racism," it continues.
It is worth noting that Toronto health officials have assured residents that Ontarians still stand little chance of contracting the virus.
"I want to remind residents that at this time, the risk to our community remains low. We appreciate that many people have questions. However, we continue to ask that people respect these people's privacy as they recover," Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, said on Monday.
Narcity has reached out to the York Region District School Board for further comment, but have yet to hear back.