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Editor’s Letter: Back to School

August 31, 2020

Pandemic pods, #SafeSeptember, outdoor classrooms, masks, droplets and ballistic ranges. This is the new vocabulary with which to navigate going back to school. A return that is fraught with activation and anxiety.

The activation is seen across the country as citizens push their elected officials to confirm smaller class sizes and adequate resources to meet high health and safety standards. The Ontario Parent Action Network has organized thousands of citizens to call on increased government investment for a safe return to school for students across the province. Their efforts have yielded an additional $1 billion in federal and provincial funding. The anxiety is that not all groups have been so successful. In these instances families with means can advocate for themselves or their own school while those already disproportionately impacted by the pandemic face a further entrenchment of existing racial and class-based inequality. Watch for the Ontario Parents Action Network in our September Sector Spotlight and our monthly Bulletin.

Public schools are foundational to democracy – they are meant to produce an engaged citizenry  and underscore the importance of civic participation. The start of the 2020/2021 school year marks a critical juncture for how we practice democracy and make change. What will come next for our public institutions?

This is one of the key questions guiding programming for DemocracyXChange. We have exciting updates to share with you over the coming weeks about speakers and sessions.

Did you know that we have a discussion group on Slack? Email us if you’re interested and we will be in touch with an invitation. If you know of a group that we should feature in our Sector Spotlight we want to hear from you – this month we profiled thoughtful and responsive work from CIVIX, the Law and Design CoLab, Leading in Colour and the Institute for Change Leaders. Finally, we are putting together important conversations about the future of democracy with Massey College and Distant, Not Disengaged – we hope that you will join us.

Sabreena Delhon, Open Democracy Fellow

Sabreena Delhon is the inaugural SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue Open Democracy Fellow. Reach her at or on Twitter @SabreenaDelhon.