School officials rework plans yet again for possibility of permanent remote learning
BARRIE, ONT. -- The Ontario government's announcement about a new option for remote learning starting in September left school boards reworking plans yet again and parents weighing the options.
"I'm leaning towards online school for September," said Grade 11 student Kennedy Watson.
The Huntsville High School student said if given a choice, she's staying home for her last year of high school. "I think it's way safer."
Ontario education unions and advocacy groups argue the change to a permanent online learning option would divert funds from in-class learning and ultimately undermine the public education system.
Simcoe County Elementary Teachers' Federation president, Janet Bigham, said the on-again, off-again lockdowns have been difficult. "It's been very stressful for staff. It's been very stressful for students and families, and we hope everyone is safe."
On Tuesday, Ontario's education minister said the province was committed to "consulting" on providing an online option.
Both the Catholic and public school boards in Simcoe Muskoka are hopeful that come the fall, the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario will have improved, making it easier to return to the classroom.
"[We] hope that parents will feel more and more comfortable with their students coming back to the classrooms," said Kim Weishar, Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.
Dawn Stevens, with the Simcoe County public board, said she would like to see everyone within the walls of schools, but "until the chief medical officer gives the okay for us to do so, we will continue to move ahead with students learning at home."
The school board said the details of what will happen in the fall have yet to be ironed out. They hope to provide parents with more information by the end of May.
The province has yet to provide any specifics about if or when students might return to the classroom this academic year.
With files from The Canadian Press