In a letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce, OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is urging the government to consult with the union’s 7,500 education workers before rushing ahead on a hybrid learning model for next school year.
“Education workers know from painful experience this spring that the hybrid model can quickly turn into a big mess,” Thomas wrote in the letter. “If we’d been consulted on this decision, we’d have said that it’s incredibly difficult to equitably and effectively support students in both remote and in-person learning at the same time.”
Here’s the complete text of the letter:
May 17, 2021
The Honourabe Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education
438 University Avenue, 5th Floor
Toronto, Ontario M7A 2A5
We are writing to ask that you consult education workers before your government rushes into a hybrid-learning model that could leave students and staff paying the price.
Education workers know from painful experience this spring that the hybrid model can quickly turn into a big mess. If we’d been consulted on this decision, we’d have said that it’s incredibly difficult to equitably and effectively support students in both remote and in-person learning at the same time.
One of our biggest fears is that students without access to computer equipment or reliable Internet will end up falling through the cracks. We’ve also heard from many parents who are critical of hybrid learning because it is logistically impossible to provide equitable education for all students.
For education workers, it is a struggle to care for students in-person and online at the same time. Mental health issues like burnout, anxiety and stress are going to lead to even more education workers’ needing to take sick time. School board boards are already having trouble filling sick-leave vacancies.
Equity, safety, quality learning environment, and well-being must all be considered when making plans for the next school year.
The members of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Boards of Education sector have been on the front lines since the start, going into schools to provide supports for special-needs students. As long as they have the proper protective equipment and safety protocols, they can provide a much better education to all.
Our union and our members are always available to sit down with government to work together on an education plan that is safe, effective, and accessible to all.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas