When Ana-Maria Klizs entered her son’s classroom at his west-end Toronto elementary school and found him wearing his coat inside, she said she immediately felt compelled to act.
“When I saw that it was below 16 degrees and they were all bundled up with their scarves and everything I’m like you know what I’m not leaving my son,” she told Global News, adding she went to buy a heater for the classroom.
“He said it was very cold and they had to go the library because it was a little warmer in the library when they were in the class they had to wear their jackets.”
A photograph from inside her young son’s classroom on Tuesday given to Global News shows the temperature at six degrees below the average room temperature.
Krista Wylie is the co-founder of Fix Our Schools, an organization that advocates for students to attend safe, well-maintained public schools. She said there is not enough money for the province’s school boards to keep up with the aging education infrastructure.
“Their hands are tied in many ways because they’re not magicians,” Wylie said.
“We’re looking at another winter across the province… with children freezing and teachers freezing trying to teach their curriculum possibly in their winter coats and you’ve got schools boards trying their best to keep up with these issues.”
The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) gets approximately $50 million every year for repairs and improvements. The current repair backlog is around $1.4 billion.
“The simple math would tell you that it’s about 30 years of backlog in order to repair our buildings to an acceptable level … We just triage as best we can. Student safety is paramount,” TCDSB spokesperson John Yan said.
“Parents should not have to hold their breath every time the season changes and for us at the school board, every time we have lower temperatures we have to hope that a boiler doesn’t go down or a pipe doesn’t burst,” adds Yan.
Meanwhile, Klizs said she is relieved the boiler is now fixed at her children’s school. She said she told her son’s teacher to keep the heater since it can operate as a fan in the hotter months.