thumb-2020-10-010 This article is more than 8 months old

Schools in Waterloo, Ontario Assigned Only One Nurse For Every 2,500 Students in the Middle of a Pandemic

Each nurse will be responsible for 12 different schools

Doug Ford’s school reopening plan is leaving some schools understaffed when it comes to nurses who are responsible for monitoring health and safety procedures and responding to outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools.

Waterloo Region District School Board, one of the largest school boards in Ontario with 64,000 students and 121 schools, will be provided with just 25 new nurses to assist with efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in area schools.

That’s one nurse for every 2,560 students — or one nurse for every 12 schools.

In a statement to PressProgress, a spokesperson for Region of Waterloo Public Health said it has hired 25 nurses who are currently being trained and will receive their school assignments “shortly.”

“Each nurse will provide support to approximately 12 schools including those in the Public, Catholic, English and French school boards; private and parochial schools,” the public health spokesperson said.

These nurses, they said, will be responsible for managing contract tracing and “daily surveillance” and help implement infection prevention and control procedures and support cohort isolation.

Additionally, the nurses will be required to “conduct virtual or on-site visits as needed as part of outbreak investigation.”

Ford’s school reopening plan has been widely criticized over the lack of funding to scale down class sizes, provide masks and ensure safe custodial services.

The provincial government has also yet to fully deploy the nurses it promised to hire to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 — in some regions, that support appears uneven.

As PressProgress reported previously the Ford government’s school reopening plan has been widely criticized for offering insufficient funds to shrink class sizes, provide regular mask supplies and ensure safe custodial services.

Additionally, the government has reportedly yet to fully deploy the nurses it promised Ontario’s schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. And, in some regions, that support appears uneven.

Elementary Teachers’ Federation Of Ontario Waterloo Occasional Teacher Local President Nathan Core told PressProgress that the nurses the ministry promised have yet to arrive.

Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, said Ontario schools are facing a shortage of nurses across the province.

“The math is pretty simple, the number of nurses that they’re hiring — split over 4,800 schools,” Bischof told PressProgress. “You have nurses who will only be able to visit each school once every two weeks or so.”

Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, echoed Bichof’s concerns about the Ford government’s handling of school reopenings.

“Despite the fact that schools have now been open for almost a month, we are hearing reports that in many cases these nurses have either not yet been hired, or they have been given no specific mandate or tasks,” Stuart told PressProgress.

“This is illustrative of a common practice by Premier Ford and Minister Lecce when it comes to providing resources for publicly-funded education,” Stuart added.

“They say a lot of big-sounding numbers to confuse and mislead the public, but when we actually consider the number of students and schools in the province, the real impact is far less than what they would like us to believe.”


Help us protect Canadians by holding the powerful accountable.

Journalism is an important public service. That’s why PressProgress is prioritizing stories aimed at keeping Canadians safe and holding the powerful accountable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Please consider supporting our award-winning non-profit news organization so we can keep making a positive impact for Canadians.


Support Our Journalism
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

thumb-2021-06-025 News

Doug Ford’s Government Cut Education By More Than Half a Billion Dollars, New Report Finds

Related Stories


Lost Wages, Security and Voice: New Report Documents Workers’ Experiences of Subcontracting in BC’s Long-Term Care Sector

View the post

Senior Green Party Officials Condemned Own Leader as ‘Autocratic’ and ‘Dishonest’ in Confidential Internal Letter

View the post

Ontario PC MPP Held Shares in Amazon As Government Faced Criticism Over Outbreaks at Amazon Warehouses

View the post


Power and democracy

Andrea Reimer

Why Canadian Politics Does Such a Bad Job at Reflecting Working Class Values

View the post
Politics & strategy

Tom Parkin

Why Jason Kenney is Playing Politics with the Horrific Legacy of Canada’s Residential Schools

View the post
Work & rights

Liz Walker and Shanice Regis-Wilkins

Here is What Everyone in Canada Needs To Know About How Collective Bargaining Really Works

View the post