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The Checkup: Are Ontario schools ready for reopening?

August 6, 2020
11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. 

As Ontario gets closer to the reality of school openings, there are many unanswered questions about whether we are prepared for September.

Are schools ready to ensure a high-quality learning environment that is safe for students and teachers, and supportive of parents’ needs? From the nuts and bolts of social distancing and sanitization to social and emotional supports, it’s time for a school re-opening checkup.

  1. What essentials must be in place by September?
  2. Are parents, teachers and students confident that all of the essentials will be in place?
  3. Are all school boards created “equal” in their capacity to implement the best options for their circumstances?
  4. What leadership is necessary – in the short and long term – to ensure effective implementation of what’s required?

On August 6, we invite parents, educators and students to join education experts Annie Kidder, Dr. Kwame McKenzie, Dr. Ann Lopez and Dr. Mary Reid as they tackle these critical questions with moderator Dr. Charles Pascal.

They will be joined by a parent, a teacher, and a student, as well as Caroline Alphonso, education reporter for the Globe and Mail; Sean Monteith, director of education for the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board; and Umar Qureshi, vice principal at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. 



Photo of Annie Kidder

Annie Kidder is the Executive Director and a founder of People for Education. Kidder became involved in public education in Ontario in the late 1990’s and since then has become an expert on education policy and funding. She regularly provides advice to policymakers and government, and her writing on education has been published in a range of media. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Ontario Principals’ Council 2004 Outstanding Contribution to Education Award, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation 2005 Public Education Advocacy Award, and in 2018, an honourary doctorate from York University.

Photo of Dr. Ann E. Lopez

Dr. Ann E. Lopez is a professor in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE. She currently serves as Director of the Center for Leadership and Diversity and Provostial Advisor, Access Programs. Born and raised in Jamaica, Dr. Lopez has wide experience in public education as a former secondary school teacher and administrator in Canada. Her research examines school leadership across various contexts, educational leadership through social justice, culturally responsive, decolonizing and anti-racist frameworks. She received the National Association for Multicultural Education's Multicultural Educator of the Year Award in 2015, and OISE's and the OISE 2020 recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award in 2020. 

Photo of Dr. Kwame McKenzie

Dr. Kwame McKenzie is CEO of the Wellesley Institute and an international expert on the social causes of illness, suicide and the development of effective, equitable health systems. He is a professor of psychiatry at University of Toronto and Director of Health Equity at the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and has written over 200 papers and five books. His early clinical and academic work focused on developing community informed innovative strategies to increase access and quality of services, which led to advisory roles to the UK Government and election to the Executive of the Royal College of Psychiatrists UK. His more recent work has investigated the social determinants of health and how they can be used to decrease illness and improve wellbeing.

Photo of Dr. Mary Reid

Dr. Mary Reid is a professor of math education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Previously, she was a classroom teacher, instructional leader, education officer at the Education Quality Accountability Office (EQAO), vice-principal and principal. She has published extensively on math content knowledge of elementary pre-service teachers, math anxiety in the classroom, the gender gap in STEM, and building efficacy for math teaching. She is currently researching gender and race gaps in math performance, specifically the intersectionality of being female and a person of colour. Minority females are vastly under-represented in STEM fields and Reid's research aims to uncover the barriers minority females face as math learners.


Photo of Dr. Charles Pascal

Dr. Charles Pascal is an internationally respected Canadian educator with expertise in early and higher education, public policy and leadership development. A professor of applied psychology and human development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, he has published extensively in the fields of psychology and education. Pascal previously served as president of Sir Sandford Fleming College, and deputy minister of education in Ontario. He is best known for his seminal report on early childhood education, which led to the introduction of full-day kindergarten in the province. His latest book, Confessions of a Public Servant: Hard earned lessons about leadership will be published in the Fall of 2020. He is a member of the Order of Canada.

Special guests

Photo of Selina Ahitan

Selina Ahitan is a high school student entering Grade 11. She plays soccer and ultimate frisbee for her school and enjoys cooking with her family. She is the secretary for the Dare to Care club, which is dedicated to looking at global issues around the world and helping others. This year, they worked closely with Samaritan Purse Canada to send over 150 gifts to children in Africa

Photo of Caroline Alphonso

Caroline Alphonso is the education reporter for the Globe and Mail, covering kindergarten to Grade 12 schooling.

Photo of Sean Monteith

Sean Monteith is Director of Education for the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board. Previously, he served as the Director of Education for the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board (KPDSB). He has lived most of his life in Northwestern Ontario, working exclusively in the areas of special education, Indigenous education, secondary schools and student success, and human resources. Monteith has focused his career on increasing graduation outcomes and rates for marginalized and racialized students. Under his leadership, the KPDSB saw the the largest increase for Indigenous student graduations in Ontario between 2013 and 2018.

Photo of Umar Qureshi

Umar Qureshi is vice principal at Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. He is also a doctoral student in the Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE. Qureshi's research looks at elementary school leadership, with a particular focus in school leadership at high need elementary schools.

Photo of Jennifer Sylvester

Jennifer Sylvester is a parent and a PhD student at OISE. Her home community is Beausoleil First Nation (Gchimnissing) on Georgian Bay. Sylvester is an advocate for Indigenous social issues, especially for equity, protection and inclusion for all Indigenous women. She served as student co-chair for the Indigenous Education Network in 2018-2019 and is also a single parent to a 14 year-old young man.

Photo of Drorit Weiss

Drorit Weiss is an OISE alum and mathematics/physics teacher, computer scientist, visual artist and professional dancer. As a former software engineer in Silicon Valley, she is a strong leader in online learning and an advocate of innovative technology use in the classroom. Drorit Weiss has received much media attention for her creative math and science raps that can be seen on her YouTube channel, Slice of Weiss.