Parents left in limbo about future of in-person learning as province extends stay-at-home order
KITCHENER -- Families in the Waterloo Region say they're frustrated no answers have been given on if in-person learning will resume before the school year ends as the province announces an extension to the current stay-at-home order until June 2.
"I think at this point it's getting out of hand," said parent Cassandra Thompson.
Her son, Benjamin, is in Grade 1 and says he misses his classmates.
"I would want to go back to in-class so I could play with my friends more," he said.
At a Thursday afternoon press conference where he announced an extension of the province's stay-at-home order until at least June 2, Premier Doug Ford said the decision to reopen schools isn't up to him.
"We have a teachers union that wants to potentially put an injunction against opening the schools," he said. "I just need the labour leaders to sit with the docs and come up with a solution."
But teachers' unions are firing back, saying they don't know of any court application or injunction and adding they've been fighting for safe in-class learning throughout the pandemic.
"We know the provincial government does not consult with us about almost anything," said Rob Gascho, president of the Waterloo Region Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation. "I'm not sure where that came from."
Ontario's top doctor said the province is monitoring to key COVID-19 trends that will impact the resumption of in-person learning: the volume load of contact tracing and the number of education staff getting vaccinated.
"Those things are moving along in a good direction, but we're going to have more discussions with our public health units and the ministry of education to determine when is the best time," Dr. David Williams said at the press conference.
"(We're) happy that the government is looking at the safe re-opening of schools," Gascho said. "I think it's something we've been asking for all along."
With only a month-and-a-half to go until the school year officially wraps up at the end of June, Thompson said parents should be given clear direction now.
"To say this is it for the rest of the year, lock it down. The kids are going to work through home school and that's just what it is," she said. "Don't keep giving the kids hope thinking that they're going back to in-person learning and playing with their buddies."