‘I do not like it’: students and teachers unions frustrated over return to online learning
WINDSOR, ONT. -- For teachers, students and their families, this April Break is proving to be anything but.
Now that the province has announced school will be reverting back to virtual learning after the break, the scramble is on.
“I do not like it,” one student told CTV News, while a parent says he’s losing confidence in the government. “I just wish the government would be more consistent, get their act together. Because we’re going from guardrail to guardrail.”
On Sunday, parents were told not to worry, that schools would remain open after the break, 24 hours later, the government changed its mind.
“It doesn’t seem that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing,” says Erin Roy, president of Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, District nine.
“Although it’s not surprising, it’s still infuriating,” adds Mario Spagnuolo, local president of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario.
The education minister responded to the criticism at Queen’s Park Tuesday.
“This issue rests exclusively with rising transmission within the province as well as our ICU capacity really at a breaking point, and that’s why this decision was made,” says Minister Stephen Lecce.
Both Roy and Spagnuolo say the last minute switch is forcing teachers and students to pivot, once more.
“They’re not ready to pivot online on the first day back, for instance, some families don’t have the technology they need,” says Spagnuolo. “Some kids have left their schoolwork at school, and they’re going to need that material at home.”
Erin Roy says it’s good to know now as opposed to finding out at the end of the week, but it pretty much spoils any chances of a much-needed break.
“They may have had some time before the break setting up for in-person. But it’s very different now, if you’re going to online, so not much of a restful break,” says Roy.
Spagnuolo says the extended, indefinite return to online learning presents the province with a fresh opportunity.
“This gives a window of opportunity for this government to get some action on their vaccination plan for front-line workers so all teachers and front-line education workers will be vaccinated prior to going back in person.”
About 250 local special education teachers are in queue to get vaccinated this week, as they’ll be back in class next Monday. Roy says the roll-out of that is slow, to start.
The health unit is reporting 431 students and staff are currently isolating due to COVID-19 exposure at 15 area schools.
“We’re just really hoping for a normal September and that’s the hope that’s at the end of the tunnel,” says Roy.