Some parents in Ontario are boycotting distance education 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 is harmful to their children.

The Facebook group, which has 3,400 members as of Friday afternoon, has used the hashtag #dontlogon as a call for parents who are now forced to switch to online learning for the fourth time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have chosen not to go online,” one parent, Lisa Donegan Baetz, told CTV News Toronto on Friday. “When we weighed the stress over the value of what type of education they actually get online, our decision was that we had to walk away.”

The Hamilton mother of two, whose children are in grades 1 and 3, joined the group as there were only 23 members, admitting that she and her husband have struggled to balance online schooling, their own full-time jobs and life in general during the race of the first three rounds of distance learning.

Removal online [learning] “At least remove all the extra things that parents are required to do – as parents must do – to support their children and remove all the frustration and stress on our children when everything does not go as planned,” she said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Doug Ford announced that his government would be closure of schools until at least January 17th to avoid potentially overwhelming the province’s hospitals with COVID-19 patients.

“The level of absenteeism we see in other sectors tells us with absolute certainty that running schools that ensure teachers are at work and not homeless will be a challenge we cannot overcome in the short term,” he said. Ford. time.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health had Dr. Kieran Moore said on 30 Dec. that the province would delay return to school by two days to give boards more time to implement additional security measures.

Asked about the group of parents boycotting online learning, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education acknowledged how challenging learning from home can be for children and their parents.

“We know parents and students face great difficulties in navigating through this global pandemic,” spokeswoman Caitlin Clark said in a statement to CTV News Toronto. “We believe it is important that students continue to have access to their teacher – and therefore we have mandated that at least 70 percent of the day should be live instruction to keep students learning and engaging in the curriculum. . “

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

School

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

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

Oxana Roma, another Hamilton mother of two, said she decided to turn away from online learning for the benefit of her son, who she said was “suffering” as a result of the teaching method.

“He misses the routine of seeing his friends, he misses seeing his teacher,” Roma told CTV News Toronto. “I do not know how much a five-year-old really learns over a computer when he is at home with all sorts of distractions. What kind of education is that? ”

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

In October, a study was published for Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment highlighted the emotional strain distance learning can have on students.

The study, called “Personal versus Online Learning in Relation to Students’ Perceptions of Significance Under COVID-19: A Brief Report,” showed that Canadian children learning externally during the COVID-19 pandemic reported that they felt they “meant less “than their peers who studied personally.

Researchers behind the study said at the time that there was a lot of awareness of how effective online learning can be in an attempt to slow down virus transmission, but they argued that not much attention had been paid to the social and emotional consequences of the teaching method. .

Schools are expected to stay closed until at least January 17th.

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

The group said they understand the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is overwhelming, hospitals and governments need to intervene.

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

Ford / Lecce

Since the onset of the pandemic, 156,073 children between the ages of 0 and 19 have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data from Public Health Ontario. As a result, 708 (0.45 percent) children in the same age cohort were hospitalized with COVID and eight (0.005 percent) children died with the disease.

In the last two weeks, two children under the age of 10 have died with COVID-19, although the circumstances surrounding both deaths are still unknown.

Dr. Moore spoke at a news conference Thursday, condoling with the families of the deceased children before adding that child deaths are “unusually rare from this virus.”

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