Letter Re Extracurriculars
Dear Honourable / Title,
I am writing to express deep concern that the Toronto District School Board has not announced a plan to return to extracurricular activities and sports this fall.
This spring, paediatric specialists, parents, teachers, and coaches called attention to the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of Ontario students. Sick Kids and the Covid-19 Advisory Science Table released a document in July 2021 which states: “Re-initiation and maintenance of extracurricular activities (e.g., music, sports, clubs) is an important component of return-to-school plans.” Furthermore, the August 2021 Ministry of Education document, COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools, explicitly permits clubs, activities, sport teams, bands and extracurriculars and inter-school sport activities. Other school boards in Ontario are moving ahead and have safety procedures in place to resume inter-school sports and clubs in September. School sports are also resuming in BC, Quebec, and other provinces.
School sports and extracurricular activities are a key component of children’s school experience. For many children, this may be their only access to athletic and other opportunities. Private sport clubs have continued to operate for much of the Covid-19 pandemic with appropriate safety protocols in place and no evidence of heightened Covid-19 risks. Having these activities available within the public school system is an important issue of social justice and equity; club sports are not accessible to all children. Moreover, the life lessons and personal growth that comes from these experiences are an integral part of our children’s school experience. The Royal Society of Canada Task Force on COVID-19 Policy Briefing Children and Schools During COVID-19 and Beyond: Engagement and Connection Through Opportunity specifically calls for the prioritization of “safe resumption of all extracurricular activities like sports and work toward ensuring these activities remain available.”
Please give all children and youth a chance to play by allowing school sports and extracurricular activities to resume this fall within Ontario’s schools. The incremental risk of resuming these activities is small while the risks to student physical and mental health of not resuming sports and clubs are substantial.
Parent of student at XX school/ Advocate for Kids