Monthly Archives: October 2017

55 children eating lunch in one classroom

We continue to hear from more people across Ontario about the importance of safe, healthy, well-maintained schools that provide environments conducive to learning. 

One Ontario citizen who is both a parent and an education worker sent us a copy of a letter she wrote to Premier Wynne during the heat wave in September. Many important points are raised in this letter, including the importance of ensuring that new school buildings are safe, healthy buildings that provide environments conducive to learning. 

I work in a kindergarten class, which is a new build with many new south-facing windows. The picture here was taken on day 3 of the September 2017 heat wave when I had finally had enough of three to five year olds suffering (the temperature was the lowest on this day).

We actually had to relocate the students to a cooler class (not air-conditioned) at lunch where 55 children had to eat lunch in one classroom just to be comfortable enough to eat their lunch. One child became so overheated that she had a terrible nosebleed that was difficult to stop because her temperature was so high.

Given the recent climate changes over the past few years that regularly sees parents dropping off ineffective fans for their children’s comfort, I would like you to consider increasing funding to deal specifically with the climate control in schools without air conditioning.

No person can possibly learn anything or function at a reasonable level at 34 degrees celsius. We simply must ensure that adequate funding exists for each classroom to maintain temperatures conducive to learning. 

Thank you very much for your consideration of this request.

My child broke her wrist when a railing gave way

We are hearing from more and more people across the province about how the $15.9 billion of disrepair in Ontario’s schools is impacting them personally.

One Ontario mother contacted us to share that her daughter had suffered both a broken wrist and a head laceration when the railing shown in this photo failed at the foundation and fell in. The railing was fixed the next day. However, that repair was one day too late and only happened in reaction to the accident.

This story certainly underscores the importance of having safe, well-maintained and healthy schools. In order to meet this objective, adequate, stable funding for school repairs and maintenance is needed from our provincial government.

This story also underscores how many repairs in schools happen reactively rather than proactively, as they should. When buildings are not proactively maintained – we see incidents like railings giving way, roofs starting to leak, boilers breaking down, all of which can cause safety issues and negatively impact classroom environments. In addition, reactive repairs are much more costly than proactive repairs.

Plan to Attend! Education Forum with Minister Hunter on Monday, October 30

Education Minister Mitzie Hunter is going to be attending an Education Forum in the GTA and we’d love for YOU to attend. Although this meeting was set up specific to Overcrowding in Willowdale Schools, this certainly is a great opportunity to ask questions of our Education Minister and let her know our expectation that all Ontario schools be healthy, safe, well-maintained buildings that provide environments conducive to learning and working!  Hope to see you there!

Yet another example of how disrepair impacts Ontario students and teachers…

On October 13, 2017, CBC reported on “Health worries at Regal Road P.S. after construction drags on”. The article raises concerns about the health of students and teachers at Regal Road Junior Public School, as construction work drags on well into the school year to replace the school’s furnace and deal with associated asbestos removal.

Regal Road P.S. Today

Parent Council member Stephanie Ayers says, “There’s been an increase in absences. For students that have breathing issues, asthma and that kind of thing, they are definitely having trouble. There’s one child in my son’s class who has gone home early every single day. Kids have been wheezing and coughing and at least one staff member at the school has been off since the end of September because of respiratory problems. Another child who has acute asthma ended up in hospital for four days and three nights, only to end up back in a hospital ER within 24 hours. That child has been kept home by the parent ever since.” Continue reading

10 Things you Need to Know About Your School’s Repair Backlog

Here are some things you need to know about your school’s repair backlog!

1. Your kids could tell you wild stories – but they are real.

Ask your kids pointed questions about their school’s condition. Do they wear sweaters or coats in the classroom? Do the washrooms have stall doors and is there soap? Do they have a table to eat lunch at? Are there bugs on the floor? Is there water dripping from the ceiling? Are the stairs smooth and slippery?

2. School conditions affect your child’s learning.

You’ve spent all that time wondering how to improve your child’s math mark. What if it is the building? Research shows that poor school conditions affect learning.

3. Your principal is not responsible for the physical condition of your school. Continue reading

More than 640 Ontario schools and daycares fail lead tests

After the Toronto Star newspaper spent a year trying to obtain data from Ontario’s Environment Ministry on which schools failed lead tests, the Province finally decided to publish information online this past Friday, October 6, 2017. Coincidentally, this same day, the Toronto Star published an article entitled, “More than 640 Ontario schools and daycares failed lead tests in the past two years”. Continue reading

Are Canadian schools ready for a natural disaster?

We’ve seen shocking examples of unprecedented natural disasters this fall. Scientists seem to be confident we’ll continue to see record-breaking weather events. 

While we consider how to best help the victims of recent hurricanes and devastating earthquakes, many Canadians are wondering about our country’s emergency-response capabilities. How would we fair with a Category 5 hurricane? Or a major earthquake like the one that devasted Mexico’s Oaxaca region?

Most Canadians know that British Columbians live in an area that is geologically active. B.C. has had 75 earthquakes in the last month alone. This week, B.C. experienced an earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale. An earthquake of 5+ can cause damage to buildings.

But do Canadians know that many children in schools in B.C. won’t be in buildings that are earthquake retrofitted? What would they say if they knew that the provincial government in B.C., regardless of the party in power, still can’t decide when to fully fund this retrofit?

B.C. has very similar tectonic plate setup to Mexico’s, and school boards are very concerned with the safety of the schools. The timeline to retrofit these schools continues to be pushed back.  Do Canadians have time to waste?

Canadians from coast-to-coast share a common problem: provincial governments are not ensuring children go to school in safe, well maintained buildings. Ask your local MP what they are doing to Fix Our Schools. Our children matter and they deserve better than we are currently delivering to them.