ETFO Media Release: Ford government’s failure to contain COVID-19 results in need to extend remote learning

Toronto, ON – As a result of the Ford government’s failure to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario, we are at the height of a pandemic that has surged out of control. This has resulted in yet another last-minute decision, one that extends remote learning in many areas of the province, and again leaves families and educators scrambling to plan.

“With COVID-19 numbers at an all-time high and the introduction of a new, more transmissible strain of the virus, our first priority must be to protect the health and safety of students and educators, and by extension, the communities in which we teach. Due to the government’s mishandling of the pandemic, the safety of students and educators can simply not be guaranteed in much of the province,” said Sam Hammond, President of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

ETFO’s position on in-person learning remains unchanged. “We firmly believe that in-person instruction in publicly-funded schools provides the best experience for learning, quality delivery, and is the most equitable model for all students. We know that educators are eager to be back with their students in their classrooms,” noted Hammond.

ETFO recognizes that shutting down in-person learning adds extra pressure on families and educators, particularly those who have school-age children. “We will continue to press the government to provide funding to support all families, and to account for the childcare needs of educators and other front-line workers,” added Hammond.

“We also call on the government to take this extra time to immediately implement the necessary measures to ensure a safe return to in-person learning is possible. This includes reducing class sizes to ensure physical distancing can be maintained, improving ventilation, deploying HEPA filters and CO2 monitors to every classroom in the province, making masks mandatory for all students and introducing broad, school based asymptomatic testing.”

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.

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ETFO Media Release: ETFO filing complaint with the Ontario Labour Relations Board regarding government’s revocation of Regulation 274

Toronto, ON – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is filing a complaint today with the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) seeking a ruling against the government’s revocation of Regulation 274.

“We believe that the government’s unilateral move to revoke Regulation 274 constitutes an unfair labour practice,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond.

“As long as the 2014-2017 teacher/occasional teacher agreement and 2017-2019 extension agreement, which both include Regulation 274, remain in force, the employer cannot change the terms and conditions of employment. Many of our teacher and occasional teacher locals have yet to negotiate a new local agreement, therefore they are still covered by the terms of their existing agreements. By revoking the Regulation, the government is unilaterally altering the terms of the central agreement in locals who are in the midst of local bargaining.”

Regulation 274 was a strong starting point to introduce fairness and transparency in hiring processes, rather than leaving it up to individual principals with the hope they would make the right choices.

“The government’s claim that it revoked the Regulation in the interest of equity and diversity hiring holds little credibility. By defunding public education and by failing to plan and appropriately fund a safe return to schools, this government has shown a complete disregard for equity. Its actions have deepened already existing gaps in our public education system, particularly among marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” added Hammond.

“At a time when the government should be focused on the safety of students and staff, they are reverting to this tactic to divert attention away from the crisis they have created with their chaotic and flawed school reopening plan.”

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.

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OCT Professional Advisory: Professional Boundaries

The Ontario College of Teachers has released a new Professional Advisory: Professional Boundaries – An Advisory for Ontario Certified Teachers.

Released October 1, 2020, the new advisory on professional boundaries highlights parameters that should inform teachers’ judgement and professional practice and defines the professional boundaries teachers must maintain with students.

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ETFO Media Release: Ontario Education Minister creates further chaos in schools, reopens door to nepotism and cronyism in teacher hiring practices

Toronto, ON – Education Minister Stephen Lecce is creating further chaos in Ontario’s schools and reopening the door to nepotism and cronyism by scrapping a regulation that ensures fair hiring practices for teachers, according to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

“At a time when the government should be focused on the safety of students and staff, they are looking to divert attention away from the crisis they have created in schools,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “The Ford government is using the COVID-19 pandemic as a smokescreen to undermine a fair and transparent process that ensures students receive the
best instruction possible. By reducing the requirements around qualifications and experience, the government is opening the door to people who may not be qualified to be in a classroom.”

“Teachers should be hired based on their qualifications and experience, not on who they know or what connections they have,” added Hammond. “The regulation provides a fair and predictable pathway to long-term and permanent employment in Ontario’s public school boards for qualified educators including recent graduates.”

“Given that many more teachers have been hired this fall to provide in-class and distance learning, there is no reason to scrap the regulation. Instead of focusing on the health and safety of students and educators, the government continues to create chaos and instability in our schools.”

Regulation 274 was introduced in 2012 to minimize bias in the school boards’ hiring process for long-term and permanent occasional teachers. It ensures that only qualified educators are interviewed for vacant positions.

A government study commissioned after the regulation came into effect in 2012 included a detailed review of literature that clearly demonstrated that teachers with more experience are better at their jobs. It also reported that the regulation had not had a negative impact on hiring for diversity. It can be viewed here.

ETFO represents 83,000 elementary public school teachers, occasional teachers and education professionals across the province. Its Building Better Schools education agenda can be viewed at BuildingBetterSchools.ca.

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World Teachers’ Day 2020

We’d like to wish a happy World Teachers’ Day to our amazing ETFO occasional teachers and other local educators! You tirelessly provide our students quality opportunities to grow into the very best they can be.

THANK YOU for all you do as the heartbeat of public education here in Algoma District!

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