Photo: Online petition being circulated by parents hoping remote learning will become an ongoing option. You can find the petition here.
In response to a request by a growing number of parents hoping the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) will continue its remote learning program beyond the pandemic, a spokesperson for Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said it’s an option being considered
“The choice parents were provided for online or in-class learning has been absolutely critical in ensuring students’ continuity of learning throughout the pandemic and in mitigating learning loss,” stated Minister spokesperson Caitlin Clark via email.
“One of Ontario’s unique strengths during the past year was that we built-up the online learning capacity ahead of and during the pandemic, against the strong opposition of teachers’ unions, because we believe students should continue to learn, regardless of the circumstances, from snow days to global pandemics. While we consult, we do believe maintaining this choice for parents and ensuring its availability this September is important. The budget delivers additional investments in strengthening the online learning system, as well as a significant boost in broadband funding—a commitment to end the digital divide across Ontario—for all families and schools,” she added.
A group of area parents has been championing the continuation of the program, despite news that the TLDSB has announced it would be discontinuing the program come September if boards are instructed to resume in-class learning.
The parents penned a letter to school board trustees urging the board to continue the program, stating “as parents, the first and foremost benefit of the program has been that it’s allowed us to keep our children safe from the COVID-19 virus. But our children have experienced myriad unexpected additional benefits beyond health and safety. During parent council meetings, parents have shared that their children have experienced the following:
- Decreased anxiety as a result of ZERO bullying, exclusion, cliques, etc.
- Increased 1:1 time with educators
- Greater efficiency in work completion, and therefore increased satisfaction
- Increased outdoor time
- Decreased sense of competition with classmates
- Decreased illness from common cold/flu
- Increased connectedness between parents and teachers
- Enhanced academic performance in literally every area: math, literacy, science (students finally “getting” concepts that previously eluded them)
- Quieter learning environment has decreased excess stimulation and increased concentration power
- Uninterrupted learning time
- Meeting more like-minded friends than in bricks-and-mortar
- Increased confidence and overall happiness, a ‘lightness’ of spirit
- Flexibility of scheduling
- Less stress, greater fulfillment, increased self-confidence.
“Children who have dealt with severe bullying at bricks-and-mortar school have finally been able to relax, blossom, and exude joy in a new environment.”
According to the letter, children with behavioural challenges or Independent Education Plans (IEP), are now thriving. “As you can imagine, many of the L@H (learn at home program) parents are, ironically, fearing the end of the pandemic because it may mean that this wonderful learning opportunity will no longer be available to our children. As involved, engaged, and compassionate parents, it pains us to think of the L@H program coming to an end.”
“It’s been a GEM that’s emerged from the chaos of an otherwise traumatic time,” the letter adds. “On behalf of the parents of the Trillium Lakelands L@H Parent Council, we urge you to consider extending this program past the pandemic’s end, and to continue to support the students for whom this program has ‘cracked the code’ of what a perfect learning environment looks like for them.”
The parent council was asked to refrain from further discussing the issue at their meetings because employees of the board also sit on the council. They’ve resorted to an online petition to urge the Ontario Education Minister to continue the program past the pandemic.
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