Students are going back to school this fall, but there are already concerns. A petition demanding that elementary and middle school class sizes be reduced has now garnered over 100,000 signatures. Ontario class sizes will currently remain at around 30 kids for grades one to eight.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) recently came out with a safe school reopening plan, but elementary class sizes will be larger than secondary ones.
While high school students will do in-class learning for only half of the day in cohorts of 15, those in elementary and middle schools will be attending all day in larger groups.
Now, the petition, which was created by TDSB employee Kelly Iggers, is calling on the government to make class sizes smaller across the board.
"The evidence suggests that with smaller class sizes, we might actually have a shot at remaining in school full-time this year," Iggers writes.
The petition references several examples of safe school reopenings that have worked in other parts of the world such as "Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, Greece, Belgium, France, [and] Switzerland."
Please help! My daughter is a teacher in Toronto. Her Sept. class size is much higher than 20. Ontario Demands Bet… https://t.co/viF95aYZAd— 45TransitionToPrison🇨🇦🇹🇹🏳️🌈BIPOC🌊 (@45TransitionToPrison🇨🇦🇹🇹🏳️🌈BIPOC🌊)1596423069.0
The petition references SickKids' Guidance for School Reopening, published on July 29.
"Addressing structural deficiencies, such as large class sizes, small classrooms and poor ventilation, must be part of any plan to reopen schools," it says.
Meanwhile, the TDSB model gives parents the option to opt their child out of classes and engage in remote learning.
However, Iggers has argued that the hardest-hit communities won't be able to afford to keep their kids at home unsupervised.
"Most parents will not have the resources to keep their children at home or to turn to private options," the petition says.
Furthermore, Ontario's reopening plan says that students grades 4 to 12 will have to wear masks, but younger students won't, according to their website.
However, multiple other safety measures have been put in place, such as no cafeterias, lockers, sports or field trips.
Doug Ford responded to the matter in a press conference on Tuesday.
"For the parents that are nervous, I understand. I’m nervous as premier and I’ll be losing sleep all the way through September to make sure kids are safe," CP24 reports.