Back to School in Ontario: Premier and Minister of Education visit Toronto classrooms
TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford and the province’s Education Minister visited a Toronto elementary school on Tuesday to get a first-hand look at the health and safety measures being promoted by the world’s largest school board of Canada.
The Toronto District School Board sent a series of documents to its more than 11,000 elementary teachers, containing tips on everything from how to ensure frequent handwashing among students to how to maximize physical distance in classrooms.
While the information in the documents is mostly in the form of recommendations, not orders, it does provide a glimpse of what schools will look like when they reopen on September 15 amid a global pandemic.
In a section titled “Tips for Designing a Classroom,” the council urges educators to keep “only essential furniture” in order to maximize space and think critically about the need for even larger furniture. large, such as teachers’ desks. or storage cabinets.
The board concedes that it is sometimes “important” to organize desks into groups to ensure that students “have the opportunity to collaborate with each other,” but asks teachers to consider options for ” flexible seats ”where students sit on chairs placed around the classroom. and only access the middle desks if necessary as a “workspace”.
In cases where desks need to be arranged together for group work, the board states that they can be placed “in a group with a space between them” and that students can remember the importance of sitting outside. arm distance.
The board also recommends that students sit diagonally to each other rather than side-to-side and suggests strict limits on the number of students that can be seated at communal tables – two for small tables and three for large ones. tables.
“The use of visual cues, placed directly on the tables, will help students understand how to maintain an appropriate physical distance from each other,” the document states.
The TDSB said it could not guarantee two meters away
The TDSB is spending nearly $ 30 million of its reserves and millions of dollars in provincial funding to hire 366 new teachers to reduce class sizes.
The council warned, however, that it would still not be able to guarantee two meters of physical distance in all of its classrooms, as recommended by public health officials.
The guidance document shared with teachers attempts to provide recommendations on how they can ensure as much physical distancing as possible in their classrooms and includes several before and after photos illustrating ways in which desks can be rearranged towards this. goal.
The document also discusses several principles of classroom organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the need to grant students “flexibility to work in areas other than a table or desk,” such as in individual chairs or on seat mats and engage them as much as possible in the “co-construction of the learning environment”.
He also states that students should bring their personal items home each evening to further maximize space in the classroom.
“When the children are in the classroom, efforts should be made as much as possible to organize the furniture in the classroom so as to leave as much space as possible between the pupils,” the document states, without providing specific standard for the space between the pupils.
According to TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird, the guidance documents were first sent to principals about a week ago and have been distributed to teachers over the past few days.
In addition to classroom organization, the documents also provide guidance on a number of other health and safety topics, such as student movement in schools, hygiene practices, and protocols regarding pickups and drop-offs.
Speaking to reporters following a visit to the Kensington Community School on College Street on Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford said he believed the boards and individual schools were “ready” and had taken all the necessary precautions.
“We lined up like we were the students, went through the whole process and looked at the classrooms and see how creative the (principal) Mr. (Daniel) Fisher was really was,” he said. -he declares. “It uses every space, whether it’s the library or any other available room.”