February 8, 2021
Minister Lecce, Minister Elliot, Dr. Williams and Dr. De Villa,
On behalf of the Toronto District School Board, I am asking for your government’s support in further protecting the students and staff in our congregated settings and Intensive Support Programs (ISP) against the spread of COVID-19.
As you know, the Ministry of Education announced the closure of all Ontario schools for in-school learning on December 22, 2020, with the exception of in-person support for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning.
We recognize the paramount importance of keeping our congregated settings and ISP open and accessible to some of our most vulnerable students, and we have done so safely, to the best of our ability, during this closure. However, we also must recognize the challenges that these settings pose. For example, the majority of the children currently being supported for in-person learning are medically fragile, unable to physically distance, unable to wear masks consistently and require extensive physical support from education workers.
To continue operating in the safest manner possible, we are asking that you provide the following support to further protect both the students and staff in these settings from COVID-19:
- immediate implementation of voluntary asymptomatic testing of staff and students in congregated settings and ISP who are exempted from the closure order; and
- immediate access to vaccinations for all education workers and teachers working in congregated settings and ISP.
I hope you will act quickly on this critical need for support. Thank you for helping to keep our students, staff and school communities safe.
As always, I am available to continue this conversation at your earliest convenience.
Chair, Toronto District School Board
Chairs of Ontario’s Public School Boards