January 18th, 2022

NDP says test, trace, report to keep schools open until June

TORONTO — The goal now is to keep schools open right through to June, says Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and NDP Education critic Marit Stiles — who want the Doug Ford government to test, trace and report COVID cases in schools again.

“We’re so relieved that kids are heading back to school this week. Their mental, emotional, and academic well-being depends on schools being open, and safe. But, like many parents we worry about safety. The goal now has to be to keep schools open and kids as safe as possible until June,” said Horwath.

“To make sure kids are protected from COVID and that schools stay open right through to the end of the school year, we need students and staff to have access to testing again, we need capacity to contact trace COVID cases in schools, and we need to report every classroom COVID case back to parents. The worst-case scenario is another shut-down and more online learning. I want Ontario to invest in safety measures to avoid that.”

Ontario schools have been closed more than anywhere else in North America, and most of Europe. Experts and parents are reporting widespread mental and emotional health challenges for kids as a result.

“Educators and families are going to do their best this week with the kids back in class — but by cutting testing, tracking and reporting of COVID cases in classrooms, Doug Ford has really left educators, kids and families to try to stay safe without any of the information they need,” said Stiles. “And Ford still hasn’t implemented the safety measures experts, parents, teachers and education workers have asked for — like smaller class sizes, air quality testing and vaccine mandates.”

Less than half of kids 5 to 11 are vaccinated.


Horwath, Stiles and the NDP have been calling for stronger COVID safety measures in schools including:

  • A vaccine blitz for students with in-school vaccine clinics with permission from parents, and an outreach campaign including culturally-relevant outreach
  • Mandatory vaccination for all teachers and education workers
  • Putting the COVID vaccine on the student immunization list
  • Free rapid tests for all students, teachers and education staff
  • Access to PCR tests again
  • Reduced class sizes and school busloads
  • Improved ventilation in all schools and regular on-site air quality testing
  • Free N95 masks for all teachers and education workers
  • Support for teachers and staff to help address critical learning gaps caused by previous shutdowns