Open Student Lodgings at Provincial Schools

Open Student Lodgings at Provincial Schools

7,519 have signed. Let’s get to 10,000!
Petition to
Provincial Schools Branch and

Why this petition matters

Started by Tamara Witcher

When in-person learning for Ontario students resumes on January 17, or after that date, our student residences will remain closed. Closed indefinitely.

We have asked the Provincial Government and the upper management many times to make an investment in our provincial schools. Upper management keeps closing, cutting, or downsizing our programs, making us smaller. The closing of our residences is a part of a string of closures and downsizing they have done. Everyone needs to understand that our schools, programs, and services are specialized and unique.

School boards that cannot serve Blind, Deafblind, Low Vision, Deaf, and Hard of Hearing children look to provincial schools for support. But if our upper management keeps closing and downsizing our programs and services, how are we serving them? They are failing the most vulnerable students by not serving them. Our staff work very hard for our students, but upper management keeps putting barriers in for us to do our jobs, and choking us of funding and admissions.

***Our schools should also be one of the first choices for our Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafblind, Low Vision, and Blind students - not the last choice.***
Our residences are closed indefinitely, despite zero outbreaks and low student enrollment; the Provincial Schools Branch has made no commitment to opening them again, and they should have found a way to keep in-person learning going. Our schools are for students with Special Education Needs, and the government has always said that students with Special Education Needs can request to be learning in class, so why does this not also apply to our students? 

Our residences have very small student populations. Public classes, when in-person learning resumes, will have 30 students in classrooms; our residences and classes have far less than that. Not only that, but our residences are big and spacious, due to decreasing student enrollment (we used to have full or almost full capacity in our schools and residences, but not anymore). Our residences enable students to attend our day programs and after-school programs, even though they might live far away.

Another example of how the PDSB has cut or downsized our services and programs is they have reduced our Resource Services department to a skeleton crew. The Resource Services department is key to bringing students in. Our schools are never advertised and that for many kids this is the last chance for them to succeed, when our schools should have been one of the first choices for education. The consequence of failing to support these kids is a life sentence (in many cases) to ODSP when they can strive towards independence within our system when it is funded appropriately.

For our students, many of them experience isolation and lack of communication at their homes. Many of their families cannot communicate with their children. Their access to education online is extremely limited and impacted by all of that.  

It is also important to note that for many decades, all the people in upper management who make all the important decisions for our schools have never had a real interest in our schools, or in encouraging students in our schools to thrive. Most, if not all, have had no background in Education of the Blind/Deafblind/Low Vision or Deaf/HoH Education. 

All this impacts our most vulnerable students, it is inequity and discriminatory to just close residence schools without any data or information to support that decision. None of us have ever been consulted in any of their decisions. 

None of us have been consulted; we demand consultation with the Provincial Schools Authority and reopen the student lodgings immediately. 

7,519 have signed. Let’s get to 10,000!