The door is closing fast on any possible return to in-class learning.
With just two months of school to go, and the provincial lockdown set to last until May 19, school boards are starting to acknowledge the 2020-21 year may finish like the last one: virtually.
Last week Thames Valley District School Board Education Director Mark Fisher said there’s a “strong likelihood” students won’t be coming back to class.
His Chatham-Kent counterparts also spoke to the prospect. “There are some conditions that the provincial science table will need to have in place for schools to return in Ontario,” says St. Clair Catholic District School Board Education Director Deb Crawford. “Much of that has to do with the situation around community spread of COVID.”
“So we’re waiting for advisement from the ministry to let us know what could happen to us provincially,” says Crawford.
Lambton-Kent District School Board Education Director John Howitt echoed those sentiments. “All school boards are prepared for whichever outcome. We’re hopeful for a return to face-to-face learning before the end of the school year. However we’ll continue to provide the best programming possible in a remote setting,” he says.
“This is a provincial call and this is a provincial closure of schools and they are taking their advice from the science table,” says Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby.
He says while he’s not sure what the exact guidelines are for re-opening, “The science table tries to look at all the factors around this."
"Obviously there are conflicting interests here. We all recognize the fact that kids will do much better in an in-class school environment rather than remote learning at home. On the other hand the situation with variants constantly changing the landscape is very hard to predict,” says Colby.
He added there’s “not uniformity of opinion regarding return to school among the medical officers of health in Ontario,” but says that “should be no surprise to anyone, there are 34 medical officers of health and they don’t always sing as a choir, but we do try and reach a consensus.”
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent