TORONTO -- Teachers in Ontario took to social media following a call to action by Premier Doug Ford, which encouraged educators to “step up” as students prepare to return to class in a little over two weeks.

“We have the incredible front-line health-care workers—PSWs, doctors, nurses—through the peak of the pandemic, dealing with COVID patients,” Ford said on Thursday. “Now, its time teachers step up, everyone else has sacrificed.”

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The comments sparked outrage online, with teachers in the province taking to Twitter providing examples of how they were “stepping up” to teach students in the middle of a pandemic.

Another teacher wrote that she was heading back to school for the third day in a row to prepare for September.

While some teachers appeared down right offended by the premier’s rallying cry, others offered humour to get their point across.

Ford’s back-to-school plan, which allocated roughly $350 million for infection control and prevention measures in Ontario schools, has been the subject of criticism since its release in late July, and is the subject of a petition to revise the strategy that has garnered close to 250,000 signatures.

At issue for some teachers, boards and parents is clarity in the plan, class sizes and the proper physical distancing of students.

Despite that, the premier has consistently defended the strategy, calling it “the safest and the most cautious plan in the entire country,” that has been co-signed by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional $2 billion for provinces to upgrade their back-to-school plans, with $762 million destined for Ontario.

The province’s education minister said the money would be spent to hire custodians, public health nurses and teachers as well as improve physical distancing on school buses and improve ventilation in classrooms.

With files from Colin D’Mello.