Date Changes For School Re-Admission Cause Stress For Teachers, Students
Ontario Education Press Release
Stress And Emergency Distance Learning
None of what's happened since COVID-19 erupted across the globe has been easy. We are human beings and designed to be social, and yet we've been given edicts by our governments that we need to stay home as much as possible and, if we do go out, we are to maintain a 6 foot (two metre) distance between people. An incredible amount of people have been told to leave their workplaces in order to maintain personal and workplace safety and are reliant on government emergency funds in order to cover rent and groceries.
Perhaps most problematic has been the fact that students and staff at all levels of the educational system have been sent home, with education to be delivered principally via online means. If all students and staff had the required access to internet and to technology in order to appropriately deliver lessons and to receive them, that would be one thing, but students' families are all at different financial levels and teachers live pretty much all over the province, and some of these areas don't necessarily receive consistent internet access. This means that significant equity issues are only further highlighted across the province.
It's hard to buy into education when you already feel as though the one place that should support everyone isn't supporting you for whatever reason. It's even more challenging when you're not sure when this significant change to your education is actually going to come to an end and some degree of "normal" is going to return. It's easy to wrap your head around a two week delay; it seems almost like a mini-vacation, where all of a sudden your week off suddenly got extended. It's not so easy when all of a sudden you've had to switch gears from three weeks off to full bore online learning when you may or may not have the necessary resources - or even be able to effectively learn via an online platform due to various reasons ranging from learning challenges to just not being able to work effectively with the technology for whatever reason.
You sit there wondering how to effectively manage four courses, all online, potentially while you have siblings trying to also access the computer and potentially a parent or two as well. You might be falling behind because you're trying to balance the work, and teachers are trying to reach out to ensure you are doing all right, and your stress level might be climbing because you're worrying about when you'll see the inside of a classroom again, you're trying to get some degree of fresh air daily or at least do something beyond seeing just your family members all the time. You might be worrying about your family members or friends who might be front line workers which is also incredibly stressful.
The ongoing pushing of the date to return to the school building can also fuel stress levels, as it can seem as though there will be no end to emergency distance learning. There's also challenges if your parents aren't able to help you when you need it, or if you are struggling with sleep or focus on the work you need to do. Whether you're struggling with the work or even just questioning when you'll see your friends at school again this year, or even get your favorite jacket back out of your locker before the end of the school year.
There seem to be more questions than answers on a daily basis when it comes to this emergency e-learning and the ongoing shifting of the return to the school building. Teachers and students are both struggling with the uncertainty and the issues that revolve around online emergency e-learning, and the questions about the ongoing return to school and associated student and staff safety concerns.
In short, it's not been happy fun times for students or teachers as they try to contemplate how things are going to play out in the coming weeks as far as their classes go. The changing dates only serve to increase stress all the way around because it makes it seem as though what has been an unterminable time of staying home even longer.
A decision needs to be made about whether or not Ontario's kids and teachers will be returning to the school building for class before the end of June, for peace of mind if nothing else. Decisions about September can come later.