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School closures for COVID-19 will stress families
LONDON, ONT. -- The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and the London District Catholic School Board have closed their buildings to the public for at least three weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All events scheduled in the buildings, including day camps, family centres and community rentals have been cancelled.
As his son Evan left school, Anthony Donatis wondered how much more class time can be missed before the school year is threatened.
“It certainly raises concerns, growing up I don't really remember missing this much time myself.”
TVDSB Associate Director Jeff Pratt sympathizes with families, “We know this is going to impact them from an instructional perspective, and we have empathy for parents that are now scrambling for daycare again.”
But Ontario families aren’t the first to experience lengthy school closures.
Londoner Laryssa Katolyk has been an early childhood educator in Hong Kong for three years.
In January, schools were closed for three weeks, but as infection spread, the closure has been extended until at least April 20.
Katolyk says lessons have continued online, “We send them a video, and then we do Zoom calls one-on-one with our kids, and then class Zoom calls almost daily.”
She adds that parents in Ontario will be challenged trying to work from home while keeping their kids caught up at school.
”The kids are tired, their eyes hurt, they're board,” she adds parents in Hong Kong have struggled to maintain limits on screen time while kids learn online.
“And the activities they have to do at home are self-initiated, so they are having to figure out how to learn on their own without a teacher guiding them along the way, which is a huge challenge.”
Pratt says TVDSB teachers had no time to create homework to keep students caught up, but online resources are expected soon.
“The Ministry of Education will be developing some online resources that students can engage in over this shutdown period.”
And whether that shutdown period gets extended beyond three weeks, like in Hong Kong, is anyone’s guess.
“We'll see where the province is at, what the state of COVID-19 is, and they'll make a decision whether we reopen or not," Pratt adds.
As she left school for an uncertain length of time, nine-year-old Lily Almond vowed to keep caught up.
“I’m probably going to do some ‘math-letics’, and I have a big Grade 4 curriculum book, so I'm probably going to work on that.”