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11am Eastern Today, Grassroots Virtual Town Hall Will Give Anxious Parents of One Third of a Million Ontario Students with Disabilities Practical Tips to Prepare for School Re-Openings


News Release For Immediate Release

August 21, 2020 Toronto: Today at 11am Eastern, a grassroots Virtual Town Hall will be held online to give deeply worried parents of one third of a million students with disabilities practical tips on what to do to prepare for and cope with the impending re-opening of Ontario schools, in the absence of a much-needed comprehensive provincial plan to ensure that students with disabilities are fully and safely included in re-opened schools. This event will have simultaneous captioning and American Sign Language interpretation.

COVID-19 hardships disproportionately fell on students with disabilities and their families while schools were closed last spring. What can parents of students with disabilities do now to prepare for the fast-approaching school re-opening? What should they be asking their school boards? What should they be telling their school boards? What can they do if their child is not being fully and safely included in school programming, whether in-person in the classroom or distance learning?

We’ll tackle these questions today from 11 am to noon. Log in to and wait for the event’s live link to appear. The media is free to broadcast any clips from this town hall.

Speaking will be three experts with extensive experience advocating for students with disabilities :

1. Laura Kirby-McIntosh, high school teacher and president of the Ontario Autism Coalition. Among her many advocacy activities, last year she sat on the Ontario Government’s panel giving advice on reforming the Ontario Autism Program.

2. David Lepofsky, retired lawyer, part-time visiting professor at the Osgoode Hall Law School, and chair of the AODA Alliance. He is also a member and past chair of the Special Education Advisory Committee of the Toronto District School Board. He is a member of the Government-appointed K-12 Education Standards Development Committee, and a member of its COVID-19 subcommittee.

3. Robert Lattanzio, lawyer and executive director of the ARCH Disability Law Centre. He and ARCH have done extensive work providing legal advice and representation to students with disabilities and their families.

“All parents are worried about school re-opening, but parents of students with disabilities are especially anxious about whether their children’s needs will get lost in the chaos that we’re expecting,” Said Laura Kirby-McIntosh.

“The Ford Government has announced no comprehensive plan for ensuring that one third of a million students with disabilities one out of every six students, will be fully and safely included in school this fall, even though we’ve been asking the Government for months to come up with a plan and have been offering constructive suggestions. The Ford Government can’t once again just leave it to each school board to try to figure this out, while scrambling in the midst of a global pandemic,” said David Lepofsky.

This is the third OAC/ AODA Alliance virtual town hall to address the needs of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Taken together, the first two virtual town halls have been viewed thousands of times.

For further information, please contact:
David Lepofsky, Chair, AODA Alliance, Twitter: @aodaalliance
Laura Kirby-McIntosh President Ontario Autism Coalition 416-315-7939 Twitter @OntAutism

For more background check out:
The first OAC/ AODA Alliance virtual town hall, held on April 7, 2020 surveying the major issues facing people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

The second OAC/AODA Alliance virtual town hall, held on May 4, 2020, exploring strategies for teaching students with disabilities during distance learning.

The Ontario Autism Coalition web page, setting out its advocacy efforts for people with autism.

The AODA Alliance’s COVID-19 web page, describing its advocacy efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ARCH Disability Law Centre’s website.