Ontario's Preparations For The Fall Semester
BY: Sakib Tariq
As regions of Ontario open up, over two million students in the province anxiously awaited for word on the possibility of returning to classes in the fall. Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Leche attempted to appease their wishes with an announcement on Friday, June 19.
“We will slowly but truly move towards the conventional class experience. But always with those strict health and safety protocols,” Lecce declared.
During the press conference, the minister highlighted that school boards will be prepared for the 2020-2021 school year with carefully structured plans suited to 3 possible scenarios. Plans will be submitted by August 4, reviewed, and parents will be informed by the start of the school year.
The most likely plan to be put in motion is a mixture of online learning and a return to classes. The ministry is considering an alternate day schedule for students. This plan emphasizes the implementation of the concepts of “cohorting” and “distancing”. Individuals are expected to avoid close personal contact and maintain a 2-metre gap for prolonged periods of time. At the elementary level, students will be in contact with a maximum of 15 peers and 1 teacher if possible.
At the secondary level, students in grades 9 and 10 will complete mandatory courses with a small cohort and older students will resume online learning. This proposal has numerous drawbacks as well. Subjects like French, art, physical education, and music are often taught by a rotation of teachers. Health and safety concerns will require an adapted system to be developed in order for course material to be delivered to kids. Shifts to the conventional timetable will also be likely to ease the traffic of students going in and out of schools and busses. Evaluations will also have to be adapted as well. In the previous year, exams and culminating activities covered a large percentage of students' marks. Students may be required to be more accustomed to assignments and presentations in lieu of exams and culminating activities.
The presented plan is a notion that the provincial government and school boards are ready for the best, the worst, and all that is in between. However, the ministry’s proposal was met with some unease from concerned parents and teachers. A number of parents would feel safer if face masks were mandatory for students, but that may not be feasible. Young children may take masks off throughout the day or even swap them with their peers.
While many precautions will be set up for students, attendance is not mandatory. School boards will allow kids to learn from home if their parents are more comfortable with it.
*All arguments made and viewpoints expressed within Youth In Politics and its nominal entities do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers or the organization as a whole.
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