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Canadian education workers speak out against reckless return to school after the abandonment of all COVID-19 public health measures

Are you an education worker? We want to hear how you have experienced the return to school with no protective measures in place. Fill out the form at the end of this article or email [email protected].

The start of the 2022/23 school year in Ontario has created immense anxiety among many education workers, who are correctly afraid of COVID-19 infection and are trying to do what they can to avoid it. This is the third school year of the pandemic, but the first without any public health measures, such as mask mandates, to protect students and staff from infection.

Some 200,000 Ontario teachers joined a powerful one-day province-wide strike against the Ford government’s budget cuts and concessionary contract demands, Feb. 21, 2020. However, just weeks later the unions used the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic as the pretext to suspend all further job action and impose sell-out contracts. [Photo: WSWS]

Prior to the start of the school year, Ontario’s chief medical officer Kieran Moore, in preparation for what he cynically termed “respiratory season,” undemocratically declared that all public health measures in schools would be abandoned and that COVID-19 would be treated like the flow People no longer needed to isolate for at least five days if they have tested positive. They are encouraged to stay home for as long as their symptoms appear and after that they are encouraged to wear a mask around people when symptoms subside, despite still being infectious with COVID-19. These decisions are totally unscientific, because at least 40-45 percent of positive cases are asymptomatic.

Air quality in schools remains as poor as it was prior to the pandemic. With COVID-19 protections now stripped and very few people wearing high-quality N95 masks, the virus has almost unlimited opportunities to infect students and staff in schools.

Dr. Tara Moriarty, who directs the Moriarty Lab’s research into infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, estimated that as of September 16 97,000 people are being infected with COVID-19 for the first time every day across Canada. This figure includes 48,000 people in Ontario, 16,000 in Quebec, and 11,000 in both Alberta and British Columbia. These are the most accurate statistics publicly available because all governments have consciously dismantled their pandemic reporting infrastructure.

The World Socialist Web Site has received comments from education workers across the country opposing these reckless policies, which are fully endorsed by the trade unions.

Aviva, a teacher from Ontario, wrote, “While it has genuinely been wonderful to see my students again and welcome them to my classroom, I am beyond disappointed and disgruntled at the lack of Covid infection controls in the school. The ‘Urgency of Normal’ propaganda has permeated every facet of school life, from the absence of masks on staff and students, to the absence of air filtration and proper ventilation in classrooms, and just recently, my board was directed to remove Covid as a reason for student absences on the online reporting tool. As one of a handful of staff who is still masking (and one of only two wearing an N95), I continue to feel further detached and isolated from my colleagues. The return has been quite bittersweet.”

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