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Ontario’s four major teachers’ unions say a meeting with the Labour Minister has resulted in no commitment to address concerns about safety standards in the province’s school reopening plan.

The unions call for the meeting earlier this month after they alleged the province’s plan violated the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

In a joint letter to their 190,000 members, the unions say they have asked the Ministry of Labour to issue a series of workplace orders in schools to protect students and teachers from COVID-19.

The unions say standards should be applied mandating 15 to 20 students a class, cohorting to a maximum of 50 students, and ventilation requirements for schools already deemed safe for the province’s courthouses.

They say boards should also be allowed to delay the beginning of the academic year either board wide or at specific schools to ensure health and safety measures are in place.

If the orders aren’t issued by Friday, the unions say they will file a complaint about the province’s reopening plan to the Ontario Labour Board.

The Minister of Labour’s office did not immediately provide comment.

Globe health columnist André Picard and senior editor Nicole MacIntyre discuss the many issues surrounding sending kids back to school. André says moving forward isn't about there being no COVID-19 cases, but limiting their number and severity through distancing, smaller classes, masks and good hygiene.

The Globe and Mail

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