Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Education Minister Stephen Lecce and two top public health officials are set to make an announcement Wednesday, likely in response to the federal government announcing $2 billion to assist provinces with school reopening in September.
Ford and Lecce have spent most of the last month batting back questions about their $309 million plan to safely reopen schools, which school boards, teachers unions and some parents criticized for not being able to lower elementary school class sizes to ensure minimum levels of physical distancing in classrooms.
In response to the criticism, Ford and Lecce allowed school boards to dip into their reserve funds to increase the number of classrooms and teachers, and added more than $60 million to the plan to pay for ventilation improvements and help school boards that do not have reserve funds.
Yesterday, the Ford government launched a print and broadcast ad campaign touting its school plans, at a cost to taxpayers that no one was willing to disclose.
School boards have in some places decided to stagger and delay the start of the school year in a bid to prepare, with Toronto public schools not resuming until Sept. 15.
Several boards in the GTA have said the reserve fund allowance still does not give them the ability to reduce all elementary class sizes, so in Toronto’s case, the board is focusing on lower class sizes in schools located in neighbourhoods hit hardest by the pandemic.
Wednesday’s announcement is preceded by an official announcement of the $2 billion in federal funds from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a Toronto elementary school, as well as a technical briefing by public health officials for reporters.
Ford and Lecce will be joined by Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Williams and Chief Coroner Dr. Dirk Huyer.
The announcement will take place at 1 p.m. at Queen’s Park and will be broadcast live on CP24 and CP24.com