Some Ontario parents are boycotting distance learning in light of new public health restrictions

A group of more than 3,000 people have joined an online group that says they are boycotting the Ontario government’s shift to distance learning because they believe it will harm their children.

The Facebook group, which has grown to 3,400 members as of Friday afternoon, is using the hashtag #dontlogon as a rallying cry for parents who are now forced to switch to online learning for the fourth time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have chosen not to go online,” a parent, Lisa Donegan Baetz, told CTV News Toronto on Friday. “Weighed in on the stress of the value of what kind of education they are actually getting online, our decision was that we should walk away.”

The mother of two from Hamilton, whose children are in first and third grade, joined the group when there were only 23 members and admits she and her husband have struggled to balance online education. , their own full-time job and life in general during the first three rounds of distance learning.

“Delete Online [learning] at the very least removes all the extra things parents have to do — that parents have to do — to support their kids and takes all the frustration and stress out of our kids when things don’t go as planned,” she said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Doug Ford announced that his administration would close schools until at least January 17 to prevent the province’s hospitals from potentially being overrun with COVID-19 patients.

“The absenteeism we see in other sectors tells us with absolute certainty that operating schools, ensuring that teachers are at work and not home sick, will be a challenge that we cannot overcome in the short term,” Ford said. the conference. time.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said on Dec. 30 that the county would delay returning to school by two days to give administrations more time to take additional safety measures.

When asked about the group of parents boycotting online learning, a spokesperson for the Department of Education acknowledged how challenging homeschooling can be for children and their parents.

“We know that parents and students are experiencing great difficulties in navigating this global pandemic,” spokesperson Caitlin Clark said in a statement to CTV News Toronto. “We believe it is important that students continue to have access to their teacher – so we have mandated that at least 70 percent of the day be live instruction to help students learn and engage with the curriculum.”

“We have also expanded school-based academic and mental health support to students. We will continue to build on investments that have improved ventilation in all schools, in addition to deploying N95 masks for staff and three-layer masks for students, and accelerated access to booster doses of the vaccine, with an emphasis on getting students back to the classroom.”

School

As a substitute for online learning, Baetz said she works with her children and uses tools such as educational apps, books and one-on-one instruction.

“We try to make it work as well as possible. Unfortunately, there are many families who cannot. There are families who leave their children at home because they have a job and can’t work from home,” Baetz said.

Oxana Roma, another Hamilton mother of two, said she has decided to move away from online learning in favor of her son, who she says is “suffering” as a result of the teaching method.

“He misses the routine, seeing his friends, he misses his teacher,” Roma told CTV News Toronto. ‘I don’t know how much a five-year-old really learns from a computer when he’s at home with all kinds of distractions. What kind of education is that?”

Roma and her husband are both essential workers and, like Baetz, say they do their best to keep their children’s education going.

In October, a study published in the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment showed the emotional toll that distance learning can take on students.

The study, titled “Personal vs. Online Learning in Relation to Students’ Perceptions of Business During COVID-19: A Brief Report,” found that Canadian children who learned remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic reported feeling felt that they were “less important” than their peers who have studied in person.

Researchers behind the study said at the time that much attention had been paid to how effective online learning can be in an effort to smooth out virus transmission, but they argued that not much attention had been paid to the social and emotional implications of the teaching method.

The schools are expected to remain closed until at least January 17.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Ford and Education Secretary Stephen Lecce published Friday, the Canadian Pediatric Society, the Pediatrics Section of the Ontario Medical Association and the Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario urged the Ontario government to date to resume personal learning.

The group said it understands that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is overwhelming for hospitals and that governments need to take action.

However, they added that “certain decisions and measures pose a much greater risk to children and young people than the virus itself.”

Ford / Lecce

According to data from Public Health Ontario, 156,073 children ages 0 to 19 have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. That led to 708 (0.45 percent) children in the same age cohort being hospitalized with COVID and eight (0.005 percent) children dying from the disease.

In the past two weeks, two children under 10 have died from COVID-19, although the circumstances surrounding both deaths are still unknown.

At a press conference on Thursday, Dr. Moore expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased children before adding that the deaths of children are “exceptionally rare from this virus”.

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