Statement on TCDSB’s attempt to force a student to attend in-person classes

As a human rights organization focused on the needs of autistic, intellectually disabled and special education-tracked students, Autistics for Autistics condemns the decision by the Toronto Catholic District School Board to attempt to force Nekeba Cuff, a Grade 10 student, to risk his life by attending in-person classes at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nekeba, who recently lost his grandmother to COVID-19, should not be forced to attend in-person school during this pandemic. It is particularly cruel and unsafe to expect him to use transit to attend a school in another district. COVID-19 affects Black Torontonians disproportionately, according to data gathered by the city.

Toronto’s special education system, in which Nebeka has been a student, has long had a racism problem. This recent decision only highlights the approach of some educators to treat students like objects in their system, rather than as people with health considerations, families and the right to autonomous decisions about their safety.

We support the Cuff family in their upcoming human rights complaint and hope it sets a standard of care for all districts in this province, putting them all on notice to redress the structural racism in their systems.