HWDSB - End cohorts at recess, now!

HWDSB - End cohorts at recess, now!

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B Beney started this petition to Dr. Elizabeth Richardson and

We as concerned parents call on Dr. Richardson, Hamilton's Medical Officer of Health, and Manny Figueiredo, Director at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) to reverse the decision to implement cohorts outdoors, during recess time.  Cohorting students outdoors goes above and beyond what was recommended by the Ministry of Education and will have negative health impacts on our children.

A child's right to play freely and interact with various peers in an outdoor setting should be protected. Confining a child to a small designated area during recess poses many concerns.

We know play-based, intrinsically motivated physical activity is an effective way to make sure kids are getting at least one hour of physical activity a day as recommended by the Childhood Obesity Foundation (https://childhoodobesityfoundation.ca/what-is-childhood-obesity/statistics/ . Childhood obesity rates have tripled over the past thirty years which we know leads to an increased risk of being diagnosed with: 

- high blood pressure or heart disease
- type-2 diabetes
- sleep apnea and other breathing problems
- abnormal or missed menstrual cycles
- bone and joint problems
- reduced balance


We also know Public Health Ontario has created an action plan to address childhood obesity and that school plays an important role in helping kids create and maintain healthy lifestyle habits.  (https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/A/2013/addressing-child-obesity.pdf 

When a child is confined to an approximate 20 foot by 30-foot space it dramatically decreases the likelihood of them having an opportunity to engage in physical activity, increasing their likelihood of obesity and negatively impacting their overall health.

Another major problem with implementing cohorts during outdoor recess is that it potentially traps a bully with their victim, creating a highly toxic and traumatic situation for the victim. Not providing a victim of bullying the opportunity to safely gather with their chosen social group, at a distance from their bully,  is detrimental to their mental health and removes tools from their toolbox in how to safely create boundaries with a bully.

Also, children may not be in the same class as their social group, and having cohorts during recess prevents them from naturally socializing with their social circle.

Lastly, over and over again we see data that shows outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is negligible. Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33249484/

In fact, “Hamilton infectious diseases physician Dr. Zain Chagla said outdoor transmission is actually far lower than 10 percent.“I think that 10 percent figure...is actually much, much closer to less than 1 percent,” Chagla said.”. (https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/outdoor-transmission-of-covid-19-is-far-lower-than-statistics-suggest-expert-says-1.5425049

This begs the question, what evidence did Hamilton Public Health and HWDSB use when making the recommendation to implement cohorts outdoors? With all due respect, “out of an abundance of caution” seventeen months into this pandemic is unacceptable. Our children deserve better.

While we acknowledge that safety must remain paramount in school settings we call on Dr. Richardson, Hamilton Public Health, and Mr. Manny Figueirado, Director at HWDSB to immediately reverse the recommendation to cohort children outdoors.








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