Monday, August 10, 2020
Back to School?
The plans for going back to school for many provinces, including our own, Ontario, have been released.
I have my own views about this and I wanted to share them with you and see what you think too, in particular those of you who are parents, educators, and health care professionals. So please leave a comment on this post, or on my Facebook, or slide into my Instagram DMs (@smacto) and give me your thoughts.
This may be a bit of a jumble and I'll try to organize my thoughts below, but essentially it comes down to this - I am glad that schools will be open for a full school day, five days a week. I have some qualifications to that, but overall I feel excited that my kids can go back to school (Q is starting JK, and E will be in Grade 4). So what am I missing? Am I naïve to think this is a good idea? How do you feel?
From my view it has been difficult to have the kids at home with us while we have been trying to do our full time day jobs. For my own sanity I need those kids back in school and it needs to be everyday. We have options of course, if we needed to hire a nanny, we could, but it isn't the solution I want.
I have heard lots of criticism of Ontario's plan and at first I wanted the critics to be quiet, since I heard "5 days a week" and that's all I cared about. I was afraid too much criticism would lead to clawing back on those days. But constructive criticism is useful and if the plan can be adapted to improve it, then let's do it. What does drive me nuts is that the government then gets criticized for making a change when it should be applauded for listening and considering different ideas. They had to start somewhere and no plan will ever be the most perfect plan.
I know everyone has different concerns, but my main one is just getting back to some semblance of normal. Covid will be with us for awhile, even if a vaccine is developed, and we can't just sit in our house forever. People say the Province is prioritizing the economy over schools but I don't necessarily agree with that; they go hand-in-hand. Especially for people that don't have flexible jobs or multiple childcare options, the kids need free public school all day everyday for the parents to work. I do think we could use a bit more creativity for the schools, and maybe we will see that, like more outdoor options until the weather gets bad.
I'm not worried about the kids wearing masks, I think they can handle it, and I know physical distancing will be difficult, so I suppose one of the main issues is class sizes, and that has always been an issue, even without a pandemic to contend with. I know that the school year will not look the same and that there will be things that are missing, but that doesn't bother me as much. My worry is more that it will all come crashing down and a rise in cases, no matter how slight, will send everyone home for an undetermined amount of time again. I think we need to recognize that there will be positive cases but we should be able to reduce risk and keep most people healthy. Ontario seems to be trending in the right direction, although the second wave will arrive at some point.
I also see the stories about kids going back to school and it's been a disaster, but I haven't heard any success stories, and I'm sure there must be some, right?! Also each jurisdiction is different in terms of their cases and attitudes towards the virus itself and we don't always know what the exact rules in place are in those disaster scenarios.
So am I totally out in left field here? Is it totally unreasonable to put kids back to school with these guidelines? Will my kids be the only ones in line on the first day of school?