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Ontario parents launch consultation on Ford government’s coronavirus pandemic education plan

Click to play video 'Parent groups launch consultation on Ontario’s coronavirus pandemic education plan' Parent groups launch consultation on Ontario’s coronavirus pandemic education plan
WATCH ABOVE: Groups of parents in Ontario are asking families to fill out an online survey sharing their experiences since sending their children back to school in September. As Caryn Lieberman reports, they say they are doing this because the Ford government is not consulting with families – Oct 29, 2020

Parent representatives from two education advocacy groups, Ontario Families for Public Education and the Ontario Parent Action Network, have launched a public consultation on the province’s coronavirus pandemic education plan.

The groups are encouraging families across the province to complete an online survey about their experiences since returning to school in September.

The survey closes on Nov. 20 and then results will be shared with the public and Premier Doug Ford.

“It has been 230 days since Doug Ford announced the initial shutdown of our schools and the chaos has not stopped since,” said Rachel Huot, who is with the Ontario Parent Action Network.

Read more: Ontario government spending $35M to help schools in coronavirus hot spots

What has stopped, she added, is consultation with families about how things are going for students in school and at home.

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For Fernanda Yanchapaxi, the mother of a Grade 2 student in Toronto who is learning virtually, she said the last two months have been challenging.

“It’s just really hard to keep her on the screen and it often involves me sitting with her on the screen at the same time and try to keep her focused,” Yanchapaxi said.

Read more: Ontario teachers say they’re preparing for online and in-class lessons with little guidance

Yanchapaxi lost her grandmother and three cousins in Ecuador to COVID-19 and felt concerned about sending her daughter back to school amid the pandemic.

“We followed the plan from the government, every detail, to see if it was something we could do in order to keep everyone safe and it just didn’t feel like it’s something that we can afford right now,” she said, opting for virtual learning instead.

Yanchapaxi said she would reconsider sending her seven-year-old daughter to school in person if changes are made to class sizes.

Read more: Coronavirus: Education minister says Ontario to review COVID-19 symptoms list for schools

Global News contacted Education Minister Stephen Lecce for comment on the public consultation launched by parent groups and received a statement in response.

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“Our plan to safely reopen schools, fully endorses by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has been informed by the best medical and scientific minds in the country,” it said.

“Our plan was informed by the voices of parents, educators and the medical community, designed to reduce the risk and keep students safe. We will never hesitate from taking further action to protect the health and safety of Ontario’s students and education staff.”