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Scores of parents across Quebec are voicing their concerns around the government's intention to get all students from pre-school through Grade 9 to physically return to schools across the province at the end of the month. School buses are shown at a depot in Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., west of Montreal, Sunday, May 10, 2020.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

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Trudeau the GM

Re Trudeau Has ‘Full Confidence’ In Morneau, PMO Says (Aug. 12): Well, of course he does. Just as every general manager in professional sports announces to media that the head coach has their full support and confidence after underperforming.

Boilerplate language before the axe falls, usually.

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Tom Wright Puslinch, Ont.

Cause and effect?

Re Coming To A Head (Letters, Aug. 12): A letter-writer relates his positive view of Julie Payette, after attending an awards ceremony at Rideau Hall for his cousin. Let’s put this into context.

Ms. Payette had a history of not showing up at such ceremonies, including at my wife’s being awarded the Governor-General’s medal for volunteering. Instead, other local dignitaries, such as the mayor of Ottawa, stepped in to do her duties. I believe the ceremony attended by the letter-writer only happened because of her previous dereliction of duty, as she tried to make amends by putting on a good show.

Bruce Hutchison Ottawa

I suspect that Julie Payette’s personality is not ideally suited to the role envisioned by traditionalists, but perhaps it’s appreciated by many average Canadians. I, for one, think having an accomplished woman from outside the circle of diplomacy was a very cool idea and one that civil servants assigned to the Governor-General’s staff may need to accommodate.

Gregory Ast Salt Spring Island, B.C.

School crunch

Re Class-size Plan Puts Students At Risk: Toronto Public Health (Aug. 8): Toronto Public Health and other public-health units are on the mark that maintaining current elementary class sizes would be a risk for the spread of COVID-19.

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Studies are still inconclusive regarding children and COVID-19. Outbreaks have occurred involving young children in elementary schools in Jaffa, Israel and Trois-Rivières, Que. Outbreaks at two child-care centres in Toronto and Montreal led to temporary closings in late spring. That is why the government and school boards should take the precautionary principle and only reopen schools with smaller classes.

The Ontario government should rethink its return-to-school plan and put the necessary funding in place to ensure the safety and health of students, educators and staff. It should also include improved building ventilation to comply with recommended standards, additional classroom space if needed and the hiring of more educators.

Doug Ford has said he “won’t spare a penny” to keep kids safe. He should put his sentiment into action.

Sam Hammond President, Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario; Toronto

Re How Your Kids Can Safely Go Back To School (Editorial, Aug. 12): As an Ontario educator of 30-plus years, I could analyze whether we ought to continue to pause provincial language assessments in addition to math testing to save approximately $20-million. Or, using available global data, I could discern that smaller class sizes come September is a necessity. Instead, though, I would like to talk about soap – and while we’re at it, warm running water and hand dryers, too.

Supplies such as soap are supposed to be furnished by school boards, but it needs to be managed by custodial staff, who have been cut to the point that soap may never reach the precious hands that need to be washed. If I had a dollar for every millilitre of soap I purchased for students in four schools over 20 years, I would be independently wealthy, spending my days counting swallowtail butterflies at the cottage.

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Simply put, a safe September requires supplies: soap in every school washroom, all day long. Is it a 21st-century innovation? Nope. Groundbreaking? Hardly. But everyone deserves a safe start to the school year.

June Starkey OCT, PhD; Toronto

It is clear that opening our schools will be essential to any return to normalcy in Canada, and The Globe’s editorial finds credible evidence to suggest it can be done safely. I suppose the big question is: Will it be done safely?

In Ontario, we are set to have kindergarten classes with up to 29 students who would not wear masks. Physical distancing would be next to impossible. It’s clear to me that returning students in this manner is more of an experiment than a controlled action.

We should cross our fingers that the experiment works, but I can’t help but believe we will be relying more on luck than science.

Robert McManus Hamilton

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I asked a friend and her 15-year-old son how they felt about going back to school in September. She was all for sending him back.

His response? “I’ll go if my friends are going and not go if they’re not. And if there’s no lunch, what’s the point?”

I submit this in case it was thought that people were making back-to-school decisions based on science and expert public-health advice!

Mary Philp Orangeville, Ont.

Ring the alarm

Re How Can Canada’s Performing Arts Ecosystem Change Amid COVID-19? (Arts & Pursuits, Aug. 8): Christopher Deacon, who holds a secure position at one of Canada’s most prestigious and well-funded institutions, has had decades to lift up more diverse artists as he climbed and to affect change within the National Arts Centre. That he has been oblivious to the lack of opportunities for marginalized artists, and that the light is only dawning now, reveals that he may not be the right person for the job he currently holds.

I would like to see The Globe and Mail give voice to an artist directly affected by the current arts crisis and the systemic racism within arts organizations.

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Anne Driscoll St. Albert, Ont.

Christopher Deacon states that “Canada is awakening to long-ignored realities – the systemic racism of our institutions.” But it seems he is the one “awakening,” and my response is: What took so long?

Canada’s arts community needs concrete plans for systematic change, not generalizations and platitudes. As head of one of the most powerfully funded venues in Canada, where is the inspired leadership?

Many Canadian arts organizations have been addressing issues of racism and social injustice for years. Mr. Deacon and the National Arts Centre could learn from those already walking the walk. With all of his power and resources, Mr. Deacon should step up with action and commitment.

David Lester Vancouver

That je ne sais quoi

Re Harris Gives Biden Ticket Gender And Generational Shift (Aug. 12): Kamala Harris recalls her high-school days in Montreal as being in “a French-speaking foreign city covered in 12 feet of snow.” So much for those cheering that her Canadian education provides her with an understanding and affinity for this country.

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Ab Dukacz Mississauga

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