With less than two weeks before the start of school, officials with the Ontario Ministry of Education have said they have listened to concerns about class sizes increasing.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce hosted a parent-teacher roundtable in Toronto on Thursday, at which he announced that the Ford government has made adjustments to earlier plans to increase the average class size in classrooms across the province for the coming school year.
The ministry had announced in March of this year that average class sizes in Grades 4 through 8 would increase by one student per class, while high school classes would increase by six students per class to an average of 28.
Lecce announced Thursday that the plan for grades four through eight would remain the same, but secondary school classes will only increase by half a student per class, to 22.5.
Since the original announcement was made this past spring, teachers, parents and teacher unions became worried that student programs may be cut and teaching jobs may be lost. The minister said his main priority was to ease concerns raised by teachers and parents.
"I am determined to put our students first and listen to those we serve," said Lecce. "I want to reassure students and their families that this September class sizes will remain effectively the same as last year."
The ministry is also providing $1.6 billion in teacher job protection for school boards beginning with this school year through 2022-2023, which will help school boards maintain teaching jobs so that any staff reductions can be managed through retirements, maternity leaves and attrition.
Blackburn News is working on a response to this story from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA), the union representing teachers at English Catholic boards, as well as the Ontario Secondary Schools Teacher Federation (OSSTF).