Parents weighing in on plan to return to school in September
Published Wednesday, August 5, 2020 5:49PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, August 5, 2020 7:05PM EDT
KITCHENER -- Parents in Waterloo Region are weighing in on the plan for kids to go back to school in the fall.
Some have concerns about overcrowding in schools and physical distancing. Others said the distance learning programs aren't clear.
Parents would like to see clarification before a decision on their child's attendance, which is due next week.
Evan Ashenhurst has decided his daughter will not be going back to school in September.
"It's a conversation I'm not looking forward to," Ashenhurst said. "It might be the hardest thing we've had to teach her."
Ashenhurst said his daughter, who is going into Grade 5, loves people and loves getting to interact with them at school.
But having her return to school isn't safe for his family, he said.
"I've got a number of health issues and COVID is the last thing I need," he said. "It could very easily kill me, compared to a normal adult."
Ashenhurst is concerned about the safety measures put in place, especially since younger children won't need to wear masks and could spread the virus to older students.
"The board's plan is pretty much to keep everything the same way as it was," he said.
Parent Julie Carder agrees with Ashenhurst's concerns.
"I don't feel comfortable sending her into a full classroom at this point in time," Carder said.
Other parents have decided to send their kids to classes in September.
"I'm hesitant, but being an only child, her mental health has kind of suffered being in isolation the past couple months," Samantha Derbyshire said. "I'm hoping this will help."
Both the Waterloo Region District School Board and Waterloo Catholic District School Board have asked parents to fill out forms indicating whether or not their child will be in class in the fall.
The surveys are due next week.
"We're also going to be issuing a similar form for staff to indicate whether or not staff plan to attend in-person instruction," said Alana Russell, chief communications officer for WRDSB. "We hope to align those who are attending a distance learning platform with the educators to plan to teach from home."
Elementary students attending public schools will have two components to their online learning. One part will be live online classes led by a teacher; the other part is independent projects.
The Catholic board said it's waiting for further guidance from the province on distance learning, but said families should expect regular contact and feedback from teachers. Students will also likely form a cohort from various schools.
Classrooms will look much different for kids who do return to school.
"Much of our efforts will be focused on proper hygiene, hand washing, hand sanitizer, masks where physical distancing isn't possible," Russell said.
Both school boards said they will follow up with any families who miss the deadline for attendance forms.