It’s still not clear what the upcoming school year will look like, but Ontario’s education minister is “hopeful” the province can deliver day-to-day in-school learning this September.
The province’s plans for September include a full return to in-class learning, a mix of at-home and online learning, and a hybrid model.
Stephen Lecce had previously said a hybrid model, is the most likely outcome.
During Thursday’s news briefing from Queen’s Park, Lecce reiterated that a 3 scenario plan gives them the flexibility needed.
However, Lecce also said it’s the government’s hope to provide an in-class, day-to-day situation.
The Globe and Mail also obtained a memo sent to school boards, urging day-to-day in-class learning.
Reporters asked Lecce if the absence of a singular plan was leaving parents in limbo and if parents should start making child care plans with their employers.
The answers Lecce provided circled back to what he called “the importance of flexibility” in the province’s 3 scenario plan.
“We’re working closely with boards of education and we’re encouraging them to be innovative,” Lecce said. “We want to give parents confidence heading into September.”
Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford unveiled his government’s new Education Equity Strategy, which includes the elimination of academic streaming.
For years, advocacy groups in Ontario have been calling for an end grade 9 streaming, calling it ‘discriminatory.’
The practice forces grade 9 students to choose between an “academic” or “applied” path as they start high school.
“To help our young people reach their full potential, we have to start earlier to create equal opportunity for them,” Ford said.
Ontario is one of the last places in Canada that uses this type of system.
The province is also proposing to eliminate discretionary suspensions for students from kindergarten up to Grade 3, beginning this September.
“Above all, our government will not tolerate racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia or hate in any form in our schools. Through these initiatives to promote equality in education, we will ensure students from all walks of life are set up for lifelong success,” Ford said in his prepared remarks.
Minister Lecce said black students are disproportionately affected by suspensions for “discretionary reasons.”
“The transformational change we are driving forward will embolden a generation of students and unleash their full potential, absent the systemic barriers that hold them back. To racialized students in Ontario: we see you, and we value you. We will stand with all students on this journey to advance respect, dignity, and opportunity,” Lecce added.
Ontario recorded 170 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, 86 of which were reported by health officials in Windsor Essex.
Ford said farmers and their workers are cooperating, and that he will be visiting the area next week.
The province also extended its COVID-19 emergency orders until July 22. The orders were set to expire on July 15.
The Ford conservatives introduced a new omnibus bill yesterday that, if passed, would carry sweeping changes.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath believes the Ford government is using the COVID-19 recovery act as a cover to “plow ahead with changes” that have nothing to with the pandemic.
The proposed bill would change 20 pieces of current legislation that govern the province’s schools, municipalities, and the justice system.