Starting this month, parents will be dropping their children off for their first day of school.

In any typical year this day is not easy for parents, but we understand this fall will be even tougher for some families.

As a father with children going back to school, I can confidently say our government is doing everything we can to keep our kids safe. Thank you to our school boards, trustees and all of the teachers to support a safe September.

In partnership with Ontario’s chief medical officer, and Canada’s leading paediatric experts, Ontario’s school reopening guidelines include a $690 million investment to fund a wide range of safety measures. We are spending more money than any province, and our guidelines are leading the nation.

We have increased funding for enhanced cleaning, including the hiring of 1,300 cleaning staff and additional cleaning supplies. We have increased funding for student mental health, access to technology, cleaning of our school buses, and are providing increased investments to upgrade air quality systems in schools.

We are continuing to fund some of the lowest class sizes in Canada in the earliest grades. As added protection, we are cohorting students, re-orientating rooms like libraries and cafeterias, staggering the start of school, and we have changed the way schools operate with one primary focus: to minimize exposure and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We are the only province hiring 500 public health nurses to support testing and screening in our schools.

For the families who choose online learning, we have improved on our fully-funded synchronized learning from home platform. It provides a clear directive to school boards that children receive a minimum of 180-225 minutes per day, depending on their grade, of real time with a teacher.

Together, we can be confident that our students will learn safely, and our province will emerge strong because of it.