The ARM Chapter 12 Executive supports the following statement from Leadnow. We share this statement with our members in the interests of Public Education in Ontario and the health of our students and colleagues.
|Ontario is in the eye of the storm as Omicron spreads through the province. On Monday, Premier Ford announced that in light of the rapidly spreading new variant, schools will not be returning to in-person learning until January 17th. 
What our province needs right now is a science-based and fulsome plan to make schools safer. Instead, we’ve received confusing messaging and late-night announcements coupled with dangerous measures like stopping the reporting of cases in schools and daycares. [2-3]
Ontarians are concerned — each day brings a new record high case count and doctors anticipate the worst is yet to come.  And as criticisms of Ford’s lack of a plan dominate headlines, many are pointing the obvious out — this was preventable. These closures could have been avoided if the government implemented sufficient safety measures at the beginning of the pandemic.
A huge surge of public outrage now could force Premier Ford and Minister of Education Lecce to deliver a real plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff. Our communities deserve that. But with schools set to reopen in less than 2 weeks, we have to act now.
With the 11th hour announcement to delay the re-opening of schools, everyone was forced to pivot quickly. Teachers are frustrated as they work to translate lesson plans for virtual learning and are worried about the safety of returning.  Parents are scrambling to find plans to juggle work and child care. And students — who have been on a two-year see-saw of learning — are confused and exhausted. 
But the bottom line is, everyone wants students to return to in-person learning — in a sustainable and safe way. This means we need the government to deliver:
· Safer Classrooms: N95 masks available, better ventilation and HEPA filters in shared spaces, widespread vaccination
· Protections for Staff: prioritized access to vaccine booster, plan for staff sickness
· Better reporting: available rapid antigen testing, the monitoring and reporting of cases in school
These calls are coming from educators, unions, students and parents [7-9]. They have been living with the consequences of inaction from the Ford government for 2 years now. They know what they need to be safe. It is time for the Ontario government to give the support they are calling for. Will you support their calls?
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we need to take care of each other. Ontario’s educators and students need us to show up.
Thank you for showing up,
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