A scathing letter from Toronto teachers and education workers says the province should shut down all Toronto schools in the new year to prevent a Christmas bump in cases.

The letter, written by the OSSTF Toronto Teachers Bargaining Unit and addressed from all Toronto teachers, also calls on the province to extend its program of funding asymptomatic testing in schools on a regular basis. 

And it accuses the Ford government of failing to provide adequate COVID-19 funding in Toronto's schools.

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We are calling on Toronto Public Health and the Provincial Government to move all Toronto schools to online learning beginning January 4th.

OSSTF Toronto

The OSSTF is a bargaining unit representing unionized teachers in Ontario.

"[Doug Ford] has refused to provide adequate funding to reduce elementary school classes to accomplish safe physical distancing, refused to provide timely or adequate funding for the upgrade of school air exchange systems, and has not provided adequate resources for contact tracing," their letter reads.

"We are calling on him to take these two actions to ensure a safer start to the New Year."

The letter references the "Thanksgiving effect," saying that public health officials have attributed Toronto's high case numbers in part to Thanksgiving gatherings.

"We want you to ensure that schools cannot contribute to a similar surge-effect on positive cases after the winter holidays," the letter says.

According to the Toronto District School Board's databank, at least three of its schools have been forced to close due to high COVID-19 cases.

Caitlin Clark, a spokesperson for Ontario's Minister of Education Steven Lecce, said schools would not be closing.*

“The Chief Medical Officer of Health has been clear — Ontario schools remain safe places to learn — with four out of five schools in this province having no active cases of COVID-19 at all and 99.9% of all Ontario students [not having] an active case," Clark wrote.

"Our government believes it is so important for our students to continue to go to school."

*This article has been updated.

Cover photo is for illustrative purposes only.

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