At an Upper Grand District School Board meeting that occurred on September 29, 2020 a delegation was made to the trustees by Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton, an epidemiologist and associate professor for the University of Guelph. Dr. Jones-Bitton is a member of Ontario Safe, a grass-roots organization made up of concerned parents, education workers, and community members who have been calling on the provincial government to reduce class sizes. In addition to a number of concerns raised, including lack of adequate social distancing in classes and on buses, the inconsistent communications of what is occurring with students were also called out. This was happening at the same time that people were posting on social media that there was a positive case of COVID at Princess Elizabeth Public School, and criticizing the lack of communication from the administration. As of publication, UGDSB and the Government of Ontario have not confirmed a positive case of COVID at Princess Elizabeth Public School through their trackers. Documentation posted to social media is below for reference.
After Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton’s delegation was complete, trustees had the opportunity to ask questions for clarification. One trustee, Michael Foley, asked if there were other specific concerns and situations in the classroom that they should be aware of. Dr. Jones-Bitton mentioned increasing class sizes upwards of twenty-nine students and the sharing of buses between schools. Furthermore, some kindergarteners are having to sit on the ground to eat lunch while others get desks. Dr. Jones-Bitton mentioned how the Ministry of Education’s school reopening template creates equity and ethical concerns. The delegation stated that guardians have not been able to make informed decisions when sending their children to schools. Other trustees asked additional questions for clarification.
The delegation finishes with Upper Grand’s Director Dr. Martha Rogers responding to Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton’s concerns. Dr. Rogers mentions how additional teachers are being hired and how they have been using reserves to help ensure safety is maintained at schools.
References – Epidemiologist Calls Out Upper Grand DSB
- Board Meetings – Upper Grand District School Board
- September 29, 2020 – Agenda for Upper Grand District School Board Board Meeting
- Andria Jones-Bitton – University of Guelph
- COVID-19 Advisory Reporting – Upper Grand District School Board
- COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres – Government of Ontario
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