TORONTO - Everywhere else in the world political systems and leadership have made key decisions regarding “normalization” post Covid-19 based on the central theme that the economy cannot rebound without having children back at school. Neither can socio-cultural activity or a salutary mental health environment for children and adults.
In Ontario, those policy approaches have been left in the hands of immature, out of control Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce. His “plan” for return to school can be summed up in two words: “you decide”. Do not look to him or his government for scientific rationale. Just follow the money.
He has determined that local boards of education will specify and be responsible for measures to provide a safe and healthy environment for academic and skills development of our children, provided they meet some basic Covid prevention protocols, public health officials agree and everyone avoids the dangers of “racist mathematics”.
Children must wear masks indoor but not necessarily outdoor – if they maintain social distancing. They may not need to provide proof of vaccination but they have to stay in a cohort so that in the event of an outbreak the right people can be quarantined. If there is an outbreak, parents and teachers… well you get the picture – Stephen Lecce will not be making the call.
The rest of the population has been convinced for months that proper sanitation and ventilation in schools, properly observed sanitation procedures may stunt the spread of the virus. All Lecce has to do is provide the resources to make it happen. His priorities seem to be elsewhere.
During this last academic year – a total disaster from any objective perspective – he has been an active agent only on issues regarding flags, internal debates regarding morality in Catholic ethical structures and in providing a youthful prop for the Premier’s public announcements.
It is not working. A social media campaign ridiculing Lecce is gaining momentum. Teacher union leadership is gravitating to seek candidacy in the other Parties as more and more individuals are motivated to seek public office to fight his cuts to education and his outright incompetence, they say.
They point to an $800 million cut in education spending since the previous year. Boards do not have resources for the sanitization of the of classroom environments. Meanwhile, in the Toronto Catholic District School Board, over the last ten months, he has approved the expenditure of some $85 million for schools in the wards of two of his compliant Trustee allies in his quest to undermine the faith dimension of the Separate Schools system in Ontario.
That sum would be the equivalent of allocating and spending $500,000 for each of the TCDSB’s 190 schools so that our children might function in a properly ventilated and sanitized environment. Count on him to interpret this as racialized, bigoted arithmetic instead.
As we write, the press conference of the Minister of Education Lecce is underway, during which he announced the allocation of 25 million dollars for ventilation systems. But are these new funds?