Letter By A Teacher
June 1, 2021
To whom it may concern,
I am an elementary school teacher with 18 years of experience working in both the Toronto and Durham District School Boards. I am appalled at the current situation and the lack of political and scientific debate regarding many different issues that are directly affecting our children, families and local businesses. My foremost concern however is the children.
I currently work in a very small school north of Toronto where most of the students have grown up together and our staff and students look to each other as family. Our older students know the younger ones well and help out and play with them without prompting. At the beginning of this past school year, many horrific policies were put in place in our school that I found shocking. I have watched over the past months as our close-knit school community has become fearful, anti-social and disengaged.
Let me frame my frustrations through the eyes of our students for you. You see, I think you may not fully understand what is happening here. To begin, when a child complains of any illness in the classroom (belly ache, headache or even a toothache) we are instructed to call the office and report it. The vice principal then dresses in his mask, goggles, shield, gown and gloves and comes to the class to escort the student to our makeshift “health” room. We are instructed to put a red square on that child’s desk so that the custodian can come down with his “ghostbusters” backpack sanitization sprayer and spray the child’s desk and chair for disinfection. The children in the classroom see the student marched off, see the red square, and see the sanitization. The student who complained is forced to sit alone in the “health” room while the vice principal (still in full gear) guards the child by sitting outside the door until the parents come to take the child home. Imagine from the children’s perspectives what this all looks like. The fear and embarrassment, the shame and confusion - being marched off to be guarded like a diseased criminal. This is just the beginning of the madness.
Let me talk about hand sanitizer for a moment. When a pencil falls on the floor, no one is allowed to touch it until I sanitize it. If someone wants to use the pencil sharpener, they cannot until it has been sanitized. Every time a child leaves - and enters a space in the school they are forced to take a squirt of sanitizer on their hands. Consider that for a moment, at 4 years old, they are squirted before entering the school in the morning, before any time they switch to a new activity centre, before they leave to go to the bathroom, when they return from the bathroom, before eating snack, before going outside to play, when returning from being outside to play, before leaving to go to gym, before entering the gym, before leaving the gym, before returning to class, before lunch, before going outside in the afternoon, before coming back in, before afternoon snack, before switching centres again in the afternoon and before leaving for the day. At 4 years old, we put sanitizer on their hands upwards of 20 times in a day with a substance that clearly says for occasional use and keep away from children right on it. Some students in the older grades have brought their own sanitizer but some teachers are telling them that they still have to be squirted with ours as well. We currently have 8 different brands of sanitizers here in our little school and have had others throughout this school year. While I have been able to access the MSDS for some of these chemicals, not all are listed in our system. I have a moral and professional obligation to keep these children safe. I cannot and will not continue to put chemicals on their skin to prevent them from getting a virus that has only killed 11 out of the 6.2 million children in Canada over two years. We are telling these children that they are dirty and a risk to others. What kind of madness has convinced anyone that this is acceptable?
At our little school we have marked standing spots outside on our pavement for the students to line up and keep their “six foot” distance. Well, when you have a class of 30 grade eight students that line goes 180 feet - a distance that is not even possible for a line up at school, so those distances had to be reduced to 3 feet. When the students are in their classrooms, we are instructed to measure the distance between their chairs so that they always maintain that 3 foot distance at all times. Students are not allowed to get up from their seats at any time without permission and even our kindergarteners now sit at desks all day long. During phys-ed class, students are now expected to try to play sports and activities while still maintaining the distancing rules. At recess, teachers spend their time moving from group to group of students and enforcing that they keep their distance at all times. Again, we are telling these children that they are dirty and a risk to others.
I really wish I could just take a few photos of all of the masks here at our little school. I think in fact you would be disgusted by what you see. Instead I will try to describe it for you. Our children suck on their masks. They lick them, They rub their noses through them. Then they put them in their pocket or on the floor while they eat their snack. Then they put them back on their face and run around for recess in them. They play in the sandbox in them, and sweat in them. In the winter, the condensation means they come back in from recess with a soaking wet mask. Then we ask our little children to keep these filthy rags on their faces and breathe through them all day, even when they are outside in the fresh air, they are not allowed to take them off. Our face is our window to expression. Especially in elementary school, our facial expression guides so much of our teaching. I am often unable to understand what they are saying and our little people are not able to watch our lip and mouth movements which is so important for learning pronunciation and general dialect. Children are unable to accurately assess normal social cues and are fearful of others when their masks are down.
Since March 2020, all extra-curricular activities and field trips have been cancelled. The most memorable part of most students’ time in elementary school is the activities and events that bring them together outside of the classroom. The removal of sports teams, fundraisers, special event days, graduation ceremonies, arts and craft clubs and all other school-spirit activities is destroying the culture of our schools and the joy of learning. We have stolen this unnecessarily. School has now become nothing more than a prison. The children are extremely frustrated and express their frustrations directly to us. We are powerless to make any changes, so I must write on their behalf.
With all of the above harmful restrictions in place at school, I managed to push through this school year with hope that our politicians and representatives would become aware of these issues. As the year progressed and nothing changed, I began to speak out. I spoke with my principal, called Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health, Durham Region Health, our local Health nurse, my MPP, Doug Ford, the Ministry of Education, the Ontario COVID information centre, and ETFO. Obviously none of these representatives were able to make any changes. However, once I learned that 12 year olds were being coerced with ice cream to take the “vaccine” without parental consent, I decided that it was time my voice be heard further. As a nation, we are encouraging our children to take an experimental drug that has not adequately been tested on their age group. With the increasing pressure to get vaccinated (in order to participate in sports teams, go to sporting events, go to birthday parties or even live in university residence) I strongly worry about my grade 7 and 8 students who I am sure will succumb to the pressure to vaccinate without their parents’ consent. As an educator, I cannot and will not stand by and watch this happen in my school. This is completely unacceptable, immoral, unethical and considering the Nuremberg Code, illegal.
At the beginning of this letter, I mentioned that our school community is more of a family than just a typical school. These measures that have been put in place are destroying that connection we have with each other. Students now view each other as diseased, students no longer see each others’ faces and smiles, students can no longer touch each other or connect through close interactions and play. Students now witness their classmates being dragged off like criminals to be sequestered. Children that I care about dearly are fearful, sad, frustrated and even suicidal. At this point in my career, I have seen many changes made to our education system that I may have not agreed with but never in my career have I felt so strongly about an issue that I would be willing to risk my career over. As a teacher and a mother, I appeal to your thoughts of your own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Please for the sake of these children - for the sake of all of our children, remove ALL of these harmful policies immediately and allow school to go back to the safe, inclusive, inspirational place that it is supposed to be.