Parents are not impressed with Ontario’s two-day delay in reopening the school

“There is no way that 48 hours will make the difference between an unsafe and secure environment.”

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Ontario parents had been waiting for news of whether students would return to school in person on January 3rd. When Ontario’s chief physician, Dr. Kieran Moore, Thursday changed the date to January 5, some parents got angry, others were a little confused.

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Christine Moulaison, who has three children attending South March Public School and a fourth at Jack Donohue Public School in Kanata, said the two-day delay was well below the time needed to make the schools safe.

“There is no way that 48 hours will make the difference between an unsafe and secure environment,” said Moulaison, a co-chair of the Ottawa Carleton Assembly of Student Councils.

She said she would have preferred to see a return to virtual learning for several weeks, allowing for more boosters for staff and vaccinations for students.

A longer delay would also allow more employees to receive N95 masks and more classrooms to be equipped with HEPA filter units, Moulaison said. The province is to deploy 3,000 more units in addition to the 70,000 it has already rolled out, but Moulaison called the increase “a drop in the bucket.

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“We want our kids in school, don’t get me wrong,” Moulaison said. “But this is not going to be a safe situation. … We are basically ready for an explosion of cases. “

Malaka Hendela is co-chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Assembly of School Councils, an umbrella group of committed parents from across the city’s largest public system. She has a son in 5th grade, and from the moment the school ended for the Christmas holidays, there was a strong suspicion that the classes would not resume on January 3rd.

Like many others, she was amazed at the two-day delay.

“I do not know what 48 hours does,” she said Thursday afternoon. Is it time enough to deploy enough N95 masks and introduce the right HEPA filters? Hopefully.”

She also pointed to the mandatory “isolation process” that underscores staffing levels in sectors such as healthcare, where a positive case can put more employees on the sidelines for days.

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“Probably the biggest thing is, does this allow maintaining proper isolation protocols of people who are actually sick or exposed to COVID? How will you keep the schools open if too many people isolate themselves?”

She also pointed out that an announcement so late in the holiday plan puts stress on parents who work shifts or have personal jobs. She is also worried that next week may bring even more changes to the school schedule.

“It feels like someone is afraid to call to close schools for two weeks or go virtual.” She also stressed that “hope while we manage” is an attitude that needs to be maintained while the pandemic drags on.

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