The president of public elementary teachers from Hearst to Temagami says her membership wants to ensure that Monday’s return to classrooms is safe for students and staff.

And Lori Ridley-White scoffs at Premier Ford saying parents will be notified when COVID-19-related absenteeism hits 30 percent.

“The thing is, parents are notified if there’s a case of lice in a classroom,” she says. “But now, they’re not going to be notified if there’s a positive case of COVID in their classroom.”

Ridley-White also rejects the notion that ventilation in all schools has been improved. In older buildings, that means opening a window. In the north this week, she points out, we had minus-45 wind chill values.

Teachers agree that in-class learning is the best.  They’re also worried and anxious about COVID-19 exposure.

Ridley-White cites the highly contagious nature of the Omicron variant.  She says her membership had hoped the province would reduce class sizes to reduce the risk of spread. But that isn’t happening.

“We want to make sure that everything is in place in order to keep it safe and to minimize the disruptions that our students have already had to deal with over the last few years.”