Safe Return to Ontario Schools

Safe Return to Ontario Schools

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Charles Koshman started this petition to Doug Ford and

On Wednesday February 3rd, the government of Ontario announced that the reopening of schools in certain school districts is set to take place on February 8th. Many students feel that this decision is premature and worry that it will set Ontario once again onto an upwards trend in case numbers. The causes for concern for students come from the fact that, in-school safety measures will not prevent the increase of community spread, it is likely that the mental health of many students will decline when they return, and that the risks associated with reopening schools now, greatly outweigh the benefits.


Due to the increased accessibility to social gatherings when schools are open, transmission of COVID-19 will likely increase. While little spread occurs inside schools, this does not mean that community spread will not be affected by the reopen. Stephen Lecce used the argument that “90% of cases within our schools came from the community” to conclude that safety measures taken by school boards are enough to deter community spread. While these measures may prevent spread in classrooms, hallways and other in-school environments, they do not stop students from acting irresponsibly on and off school property. For example, gathering in large groups before and after school, removal of masks without physical distancing, and many more unsafe activities will surge and be difficult to prevent. Reopening schools will greatly increase the risk of community spread and it is simply not a safe assumption that students will follow all in-school measures outside of school. 


While many students are greatly appreciative of the consistent consideration of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, many also fear that with the return to in-class learning, we will see a decline in the mental health of the general student population. High School is already an environment for which many students experience extreme anxiety, and this is only worsened by the risk of transmission at school. In the likely scenario that case numbers begin to increase when schools reopen, it will take a while to see this trend and respond accordingly. By this time we will have added several weeks to the length of our online learning as well as the lockdown, continuing and worsening the conditions that are causing anxiety and depression in teens and children. 


Another reason students wish to see school reopenings postponed is because of the clear risk-benefit ratio. If school reopenings increase case numbers, more people will struggle financially, more people will get sick, and more people will die. In addition, the economy will suffer for longer than it needs to, and local and small businesses will be at higher risk of going under. On the contrary, if students continue to learn online until case numbers are consistently low- not just on a downwards trend, we will more surely see permanent reopening of Ontario schools and the end of this pandemic much sooner. The worst case scenario if reopening is postponed is far more appealing than the worst case scenario if students return to class on Monday. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!