On August 2nd, two days after Premier Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce announced Ontario’s back-to-school ‘plan’, retired teacher Wendy Goodes went to work creating a comprehensive chart that compares the government’s plan for September versus the recommendations for safe school reopening provided by Sick Kids. The document shows 20+ areas of differentiation. 

Goodes tweeted her findings with the message, “For those that will be returning or are sending someone to an elementary school building in September, I am worried for you.” 

The tweet went viral, and the alarming chart is now making the rounds in parenting groups, as a shared google doc. One mother’s comment sums it up: “ENDLESS SCREAM”. 

Concerns are widespread and many parents are making the tough choice to not send their children to school this fall, fearing both a disastrous second wave of COVID, but also a traumatic school experience. Some have suggested that leagues of families opting out is exactly what the government intended—class sizes reduced by default, versus class sizes safely reduced through adequate funding, innovative thinking, and community care.

The flawed plan, or what is trending as #UnsafeSeptember on Twitter, is what motivated TDSB librarian and teacher Kelly Iggers to launch a Change.org petition this past Saturday which has already amassed 92,685 signatures. “We have evidence from countries and regions that went back to school in the spring to show that it CAN be done safely, without a surge in cases. The evidence suggests that the way to do this (along with other measures) is SMALL CLASS SIZES,” Iggers writes. If you haven’t already signed it please do (and encourage your non-parent friends to also sign!)

View the comparison chart in full here. The hope and excitement that typically comes with the back-to-school season is nowhere to be found. But if we collectively use our voice to advocate for change, there’s a chance that we may feel somewhat more confident about the school year ahead.