Same Again – School closures are forcing students

School closures are forcing students, teachers, and parents to switch abruptly to hastily imposed online learning, or various mutations of “blended learning” that combine face-to-face instruction with online learning. Working parents, learning experts and pediatricians report that “things are not going well for kids.” “While some districts are doing worse than others, there is real concern about thesnowball effect’ of delayed literacy achievement, delayed skill development, and truncated preparation for graduation.” An incredibly shocking study conducted in December 2020 by Bonnie Stelmach for the Alberta School Boards Association uncovered previously unknown problems with repeated home-school neglect and an incredible burden on parents. The strangest thing about homeschooling 2.0 is that schools are now in a sort of strange no-man’s land, with little government oversight or accountability, especially for parents who survived the third wave of COVID-19 dropouts. Much of the Canadian public, including most parents, remains in the dark about the impact of pandemic learning loss, especially on the development of Canada’s youngest schoolchildren. With only weeks to go until homecoming in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces, it is a good time to examine the prevalence of learning loss, the social and psychological consequences and the burden on parents of school-age children. Parents, teachers and students are opposing the suspension of student assessments between March and June 2020. Following a similar decision by the Ottawa School Board, the TDSB will again offer a two-track system in 2021-22, allowing parents to choose between face-to-face and virtual learning for their children. The relationship between teachers, students, and families now illustrates what American human relations expert Pauline Boss calls the “ambiguity of family boundaries.” Under stressful conditions, “school integrates into the home,” where parents must establish regular routines and assume the role of teacher,” “she” says. U.S. studies of student engagement have already shown that more and more students are working retail jobs while in school. Based on a survey of 1,067 parents and 566 teachers and 20 in-depth interviews, the study found a profound effect measured in “pulse points” in parent-teacher relationships. While more parents recognize the problems of modern education, they are also much more aware of the shortcomings of the current elementary school curriculum, poor integration of online learning platforms, inconsistent teaching, and mismatched expectations even between grades in their own local schools. Spending hours a day online and constantly changing schedules, especially in GTA school districts, contributes to increased absenteeism. Although serious research exists on the impact of school closures on parents and families, it is limited in Canada. Fifteen months after the pandemic, alarm bells are ringing throughout Canada about the state of student learning, achievement, and well-being. One year after school closures in the spring of 2020, it is hard to understand why school administrators are still trying to figure out how to measure student attendance and engagement.