Teacher creates lawn display to show parents, students the new classroom setup
KITCHENER -- Students are returning to school in three weeks, but what that will look like is still unclear.
In Kitchener, an elementary teacher decided to give parents a preview – on her front lawn.
Paper cutouts of 23 children have been placed across Kristina Bertrand’s grass.
Each one has been spaced out one metre apart.
“The display is to show the public, and parents and students, what our classrooms will look like in September,” she says.
It’s meant to represent a Grade 1 to Grade 3 class, and give a visual representation of the new classroom setup.
“If you choose to homeschool or do virtual learning, this might solidify your decision,” says Bertrand. “If you are going to send your child to school, it might give them an opportunity to be prepared for what to expect when they go.”
The province has already announced that it will not be making any changes to class sizes for elementary students.
Bertrand says she’s reached out to the office of the Premier, as well as the Minister of Education, inviting them to walk through her display and discuss their plan for September.
The Premier’s office responded by reiterating the province’s reopening plan, and Bertrand has not yet heard back from the Ministry of Education.
A study from the University of Waterloo suggests the higher the number of students in each class, the higher the risk of contracting COVID-19. They used a mathematical model to compare class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios to determine how they influence the number of overall cases.
“Every time that the class size was doubled in a room, from eight students in a room to 15 or 30, we found the number of cases, and the number of student days lost due to classroom closure more than doubled,” says Chris Bauch, an applied math professor at the University of Waterloo.
He adds that there is no such thing as zero risk.
Protective measures can help lower transmission rates, but the more kids in a room, the higher the risk.
“Smaller class sizes also always help,” says Bauch.
Bertrand, meanwhile, says her display is getting mostly positive reviews and reactions.
“I told anyone if they want to go and take a walk-through to see what it feels like, they can do that,” she says.
CTV News reached out to the Waterloo Region District School Board about any potential changes to class sizes or staggered start dates.
The board says it will have a better idea of its next steps once final in-class attendance numbers have been tallied. Parents had until 4 p.m. on August 21 to make their decision.
The board also said that it will provide its own virtual school setup next week.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board sent CTV News the following statement: “Our plan is to hold to the existing government class size regulation as much as possible. However, it is likely that we’ll have smaller classes overall in schools due to the students choosing to go remote. But we don’t have a final number yet so there’s no way to predict what a final ratio might be.”