Back to school in a new post-pandemic world

By Yvonne Yorke –

This mural is approximately 10-years-old. Have you ever wondered what Article 26 is about? If so, here is the answer: 

Article 26 is from the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

School brings routine, physical activity, social connections, and the opportunity for extracurriculars such as sports, drama, music, etc.  Studies have found that when kids engage in activities that reduce stress and anxiety, they are able to learn and perform better at school.

It’s not September yet, but it is time to think about “back to school” and what that may look like when school resumes September 9, 2021. Things will be different when students transition back to in-class learning after such a long break.Not everyone is mentally ready to adjust to a new post-pandemic normal. Online learning is still an option for parents to choose for their child for the 2021/22 season. There is also a buzz about hybrid learning in which kids do a combination of both in-class and online learning. With hybrid learning, the instructor would have to teach students online while at the same time teaching other students who are actually in the classroom. 

“Our back-to-school plan will work to ensure a more normal in-class learning experience, including reinstating clubs, sports and extracurriculars,” Caitlin Clark, a spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in an email July 19.  With the majority of teachers and students (12 years or older) expected to be vaccinated by the start of the upcoming school year, parents and kids alike appear to be hoping for exactly that.  

So far, here is what we know about what can be expected for the upcoming school year:

Elementary

The hope is for a safe and healthy return to in-class learning come the fall. Because vaccinations are for children 12 years or older, not much is expected to change since last year with regards to class sizes, sanitation and hygiene practices (including mask wearing), use of cohorts, etc.…at least for the fall. Extracurricular activities are to return with restrictions.

High School

The Ford government’s guidelines for post-secondary schools say they should plan to reopen fully in September, with no limits on class sizes and no physical distancing.  Face masks will still be required indoors. Extracurriculars are to return with restrictions.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is expected to find an alternative to the “quadmester” model used in 2020/21 in which students took two courses at a time across four separate academic semesters. It replaced a two-semester system where students were typically enrolled in four classes at a time.

College/University

It was announced on July 19, 2021 that the Ontario government is permitting in-class learning to resume with no capacity limits. Masks are mandatory indoors. Extracurricular activities are to return with restrictions.

Seneca College is the only post-secondary institution to announce that anyone who wants to come onto its campuses in September – students, teachers and other staff – must be vaccinated. Ryerson University and the University of Toronto require vaccinations for students wishing to live on campus only.

 

While the pandemic has certainly put the importance of quality education at the forefront, students have definitely had to make sacrifices during this time. Consideration should be given to youth on decisions about their education and which options are best for them to learn as individuals. 

 

Sources:

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/universal-declaration-human-rights-UDHR

York Hills Centre for Children’s Youth & Families

The Canadian Press 

TDSB 

2021-08-06T18:50:00+01:00August 3rd, 2021|Categories: children, Community, covid-19, education, General, Health, mental health, TDSB, youth|0 Comments

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