Ontario parents, students demand Doug Ford reopen schools and KEEP them open

"We're extremely upset with the Ford government for not following science, and keeping our schools closed," Ontario Families Coalition founder Bronwen Alsop said.

Beth Baisch Toronto ON

In response to the Ford government delaying in-person learning until at least Jan. 17, around 100 parents and students gathered outside the Ontario Legislative Building at Queen's Park in Toronto on Sunday to demand Premier Doug Ford allow in-person learning to resume.

Bronwen Alsop, an early childhood educator and the founder of the Ontario Families Coalition, said: "We're extremely upset with the Ford government for not following science, and keeping our schools closed. Schools need to be opened immediately for all ages."

Alsop stressed that the event's focus was on schools and the long-term damage being done to children, and not any other political issue.

"We are not going to go away as parents with this. If this does not resolve, then we are going to have to take this to higher levels with legal action. We are sick and tired of having our children put through this misery of virtual learning," she said.

"Their mental health has been damaged. Our parents' mental health has been damaged," she said. "Virtual learning does not work for our students, and it is time that our Ford government wake up and understand that they are going to have years and years of long-term damage."

Mirit Eliraz, also with Ontario Families Coalition, questioned why kids are back in school elsewhere but not Ontario. "We are on our fourth school closure in Ontario. That is more than pretty much any other jurisdiction in North America, maybe even around the world," she stated.

She added: "What makes our schools in Ontario so uniquely unsafe that we are unable to send our kids, and to prioritize them?"

Irvin Studin, president of the Institute for 21st Century Questions think tank, gave an impassioned speech in which he mentioned that he doesn't even recognize Canada and Ontario any more. "We need to stand for our children, and if we don’t stand for our children, we stand for nothing," he said.

"It is unforgivable morally. It is strategically degenerate," he continued. "We are either preparing them for tomorrow, or we have failed."

"It must stop now. We open the schools, we NEVER close them again!" he added.

Studin then called for Ford's resignation, saying the Premier has closed schools as a form of policy preference: "'I prefer the kids not be educated.' What kind of position is that? What kind of society is that that abides this?"

Several children took turns speaking through the megaphone to express why they want schools to open, as well. Many said they miss their friends and teachers, while other said they don't feel they are learning anything at home, expressing problems like focusing.

"I don't think I've learned anything during the time of online schooling," one young boy said. "So I just want to make this straight: Doug Ford, please open back the schools for everybody."

Another took a jab at the Premier, suggesting Ford is disconnected from the matter: "I don't think Doug Ford knows what we're going through because he was in school like 60 years ago."

The event's attendees were adamant that even if schools do reopen on schedule, they must never be closed again.

The Ford government has since reiterated that they plan to reopen schools for in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 17.


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