Over the past few months students, teachers and parents have been forced to rapidly adapt to new changes surrounding education, employment and childcare. With the future of the COVID-19 pandemic still unclear, there are no definite plans for what school will look like this upcoming September. Privately educated Minister of Education Stephen Lecce offered three possible options that Ontario’s school boards should be prepared to institute come fall. The first scenario is a “return to regular in-class instruction with strict health and safety protocols”, as mentioned by Lecce during a news conference at Queen's Park on June 19th. Second is the continuation of remote learning, with an attempt at standardizing and improving the functionality of the technologies being used. Finally, Lecce offered a modified schedule blending in-class learning with online learning, alternating instructional days so classes do not exceed 15 students.
The Durham District School Board invited parents, students, and teachers to complete an online survey to share their thoughts about returning to school this fall. An astounding 11% of students and 16% of parents responded to the survey to voice their concerns. The students’ largest concerns were getting used to school routines again and trying to keep a safe distance from others, with the majority of students most looking forward to seeing their friends again and receiving better assistance from teachers.
Mental Health Perspective
Schools do more than educate Ontario’s children; they provide a social aspect vital to the development of teens and create positive mental health. Mental health is a growing concern as quarantine continues and the future is uncertain. We will surely see increased levels of depression due to social isolation and higher levels of anger in response to one's own inability to control the situation and the decisions of leaders.
This Saturday crowds of parents gathered in front of Queen’s Park demanding the government open schools full time in September with necessary safety measures in place. The protestors argue a regular school schedule is essential for their children's mental health and Canada's economic recovery. Keeping children out of school as many parents head back into the workplace could financially devastate low-income families who must then pay for daycare. This is a reality facing many Canadian families today, and while the government can modify the school system to adhere to their protocol, it is not so easily done in the thousands of daycares across Ontario. In addition, if daycares are unable to open due to alignment with closure if schools, one parent may be forced to exit the workforce and single-parent families will struggle to make ends meet. This could further damage the economy and put Canadians at risk.
DDSB board meeting agenda, survey, and further details about the three options presented by Stephen Lecce. This is the file shared with DDSB teachers recently.