The Ministry of Education backed away from the concept of a one size fits all approach to the reopening of school buildings. The ultimate decision and planning was passed to local school districts. Consequently, there is no consistency in approaches and districts are doing their best with the best knowledge and restrictions that they can. I sure wouldn’t want to be making those decisions. More power to them.
But if I was, I would be listening to the best advice possible. That includes the local people who look at us in Windsor and Essex County as a big community and not a necessary evil at the western end of the 401.
Nobody’s been through anything like this before and so decisions are made with the best information and planning possible. We’ve then seen the Ministry step in and veto these best laid plans – the Toronto DSB and its plans has been highly publicized. We can best assume that the plans are in the hands of local districts unless they get to be too expensive. I did not see any medical reasons why the TDSB had its plans scrapped.
I see a number of scenarios falling out of this.
- Things will work out well. All the sterilization processes, planning for student accommodations, the new HVAC systems and everything will work. There will be a lot of happiness by all if this happens. Except, of course, for the business owners who have lost business or, even worse, having been put out of business because of decisions made to limit things up until now.
- Things will work out badly. We’ve seen that by putting too many people together at the same time results in problems – we see reports from prisons, gatherings at parties/beaches, and motorcycle rallies ending up in virus spread. There will be finger pointing at why this didn’t work – maybe union directives resulting in problems? The unions have been the bad guys all along.
Of course, it’s the current situation with school building reopenings that has caught everyone’s attention and fear.
Recently, we’ve seen the provincial directive for standards for reopening school buildings despite the earlier promise that decisions would be made locally. In particular, we’ve even had medical officials share the stage indicating that one metre social distancing between students will be sufficient.
This runs counter to all of the advice that we’ve all (or most of us) have been trying to follow since this whole mess started. We’ve tried for two metres distance everywhere we go. Stores and shops have put a lot of money and effort into those floor stickers for distancing/one way aisles and training for employees to remind us.
As we progress through the stages of reopening business and public places, the two metre rule was the golden rule we were living by. I can’t speak for every location in the province, but I’m proud of what I see here. People are wearing masks everywhere (we are required by our local Health Unit) inside stores and buildings.
Except when it comes to reopening school buildings. We can get away with being closer, if we’re to believe the provincial direction.
How about a second opinion? That’s quite customary when it comes to medical things – our local Medical Officer of Health has been guiding the good ship Essex County through this. We started out with high numbers and we’ve been able to address the cross-border and farm worker issues well, it seems. As I write this, five new cases were reported yesterday. We can only assume that it was the wisdom of our local Health Unit that made it happen and us for following their rules. It’s not like the virus has run its course; there are still big numbers in other places.
What’s the advice here?
Perhaps Dr. Ahmed is being conservative (and not Conservative) in his advice. I can understand that he would be happy with how the region tackled the issue and would not want to do anything that would reverse our course.
It’s going to be a dilemma for local school districts, schools, and ultimately classroom teachers. I know that many are hoping for good weather and the opportunity to move their “cohort” outside for a while.
What are things like in your section of the world? What direction is your local Health Unit and Medical Officer of Health providing? What are your thoughts – one metre or two? What’s actually possible in your classroom space?