TORONTO - To whom should a concerned parent turn with concerns about returning to school in September, amid concerns of a resurgence a Covid-19? Probably the same people to whom the Ford government addressed the question: local school boards of education. These may not always manifest the most competent of expertise, but they exist in Law, with Constitutional guarantees, for a purpose. Without judging the motives and practices of the Ford government, it did lay out some “specific options for return to school” for which it required local boards’ feedback.
Opposition MPPs may or not have opportunities to offer their own opinion regarding the appropriateness of whichever option the government may choose. School Boards have an obligation to outline their preparedness and the supporting plans to back that up.
It is unclear who speaks for the Toronto Catholic District School Board on this matter, and any other. Following a second meeting of the Board, four trustees fanned out to “spin” their version of why they voted the way they did. Three of them managed to attract the producer of two talk shows on CFRB 1010. For greater “certainty of impact”, they subsequently exchanged views on social media with adulating sycophants who gave them a new moniker “four horses of hope[lessness]”.
The Board’s Administration had drawn upon the views expressed in a survey to there were some 30.000 parental responses. Its report again detailed the cost implications for the option it would be forwarding to the Minister. Specifically, it separated the elementary schools from the secondary and explored the challenges in the recommendations for both.
Clearly, health concerns in loco and in transit, as they would impact on both mental and physical health of children were also front and center. It was unclear to this writer if the dissident trustees above read the report and risk assessment from Sick Children’s Hospital prior to “deliberating” their own Staff Report.
What is clear is the “non-existent plan” to accommodate students in nonexistent spaces, as proposed by a nonsensical motion put forward by one of the group of “four horses of hopelessness”. But, hey their concern is the extra teachers that will be required in rooms that have yet to be constructed in places that are not available. In other words, to reopen negotiations for a collective agreement already signed and accepted.
It may be a valid political objective for Unions and political parties but it is difficult to justify on the part of those who accepted the allocations in late Winter early Spring and thought themselves lucky to be where they ended up. If parents were to decide to keep their children at home, it is unlikely that the Board could claim Grants for Student Needs (funding) were parents to decide to keep their children at home.
The TCDSB Administration presented a Balanced Budget for Board approval. It recommended the option of return to school for all students without class size restrictions and participation in five days a week leaning experience.
To understand why the dissident four actually voted for the option, while heaping scorn on their eight colleagues for doing so, one need only check the recordings to know that they did so because, in the words of one Maria Rizzo (and I paraphrase), I don’t think they are really going to do it.