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Education Minister disputes teacher pictures of packed classrooms

Last Updated Sep 4, 2020 at 7:08 am EST

Public school teacher Cory Judson tweeted out a photo, asking Premier Ford if this represented the proper space between desks in a classroom. TWITTER/Cory Judson

Education Minister Stephen Lecce is disputing social media photos of what classrooms will look like this fall while touting the Ford government’s assertion that its back-to-school plan is the safest in the country.

After a number of teachers took to Twitter to post pictures of classrooms which show a lack of proper social distancing between desks, Lecce took issue with how the final layout of classroom’s will look in a week’s time.

“Well, I think the question fundamentally for those that would share those photos is, is that the final class number?” he said during a live interview on 680 NEWS.

“On one hand I’m being asked why aren’t the schedules completed? Because timetabling is happening in live time because parents are still providing their numbers to school boards. And then at the same time, you’re then saying to me to do the final numbers. Both can’t be true.”

“For parents, for context, when they see those images, I can appreciate why that would give an element of concern but what is the truth, is school boards right now are finalizing the numbers of kids that will be within the school. It will allow them, by knowing the number, there will be a complimentary amount of staff,” he said

When asked if he would guarantee that desks would not be packed together when students arrive for class next week, Lecce said “what we can guarantee is that every school board, who is the one who’s delivering education in the province, every school board has the resources to ensure distancing.”

Lecce then doubled down on Premier Ford’s claim that his government’s back-to-school plan was truly safe.

“I do believe this is the safest plan for students in this country, by every measurement.”

The four major teachers’ unions in the province, which represent 190,000 teachers and education workers, have filed a labour board complaint alleging Ontario’s school reopening plan violates its own workplace safety laws.