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City of Toronto offers use of facilities, rooms for school boards

An empty classroom is pictured at McGee Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. From school closures to travel restrictions to limits on large gatherings, Canada entered a new stage in combating the spread of COVID-19 this week with measures that various experts say will almost certainly have unintended consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The City of Toronto has offered the Toronto District and Toronto Catholic District School Boards access to space in the city’s facilities as a part of their school reopening plan.

In a letter to the director of education of both school boards, city manager Chris Murrary says they will be able to offer 36 rooms in 24 facilities that could be made available by Sept. 8.

The boards’ potential use of the space would not disrupt any city programming.

The letter states the boards had requested access to city spaces and city staff have been working to identify community centres, libraries, museums and other cultural centres that could be used.

Other spaces have been identified, but would require the cancellation of some city-delivered programs.

Mayor John Tory shared the letter on Twitter, adding, “We are doing everything we can as [the] City of Toronto government to help the schools boards and province with the return to school.”

The TDSB is currently working on another back-to school plan after their initial plan was rejected by the provincial government on Friday.

It would have seen the board spend $20 million to hire more teachers and cut elementary class sizes to between 15 and 20 students depending on the grade.

The plan would have also required a change in the daily school schedule, cutting 48 minutes of classroom time to include teacher prep which is mandated by contract.

The board was meeting on Tuesday to discuss next steps.

Toronto Public Health has also announced that it has created a team of 70 nurses to provide education and training sessions to school staff, parents and caregivers aimed a bolstering infection control and prevention.

The board of health has previously called for smaller class sizes to accommodate physical distancing, expanded use of masks and an enhanced testing strategy.

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