Like many, I made sure to watch the Ontario government news conference last week to see the promised plans for how school will resume from Summer Holidays.
This government has drawn a hard line in the way that COVID has been handled throughout the province. I, for one, have been impressed with the leadership taken to help lead the province out of the current situation. The premier has been clear with each announcement that he’s listening to the experts in the field – the medical advice to inform his decisions. I was disappointed that I live in an area that was held back recently for going to Stage 2 but I respect his decision and we’re hoping that our community will eventually get it “right” so that we can start to reclaim lives. There is no game plan that a leader can follow; it’s the advice given by experts that are helping to lead us from this.
I was hoping that we would see a similar approach to education. Similarly, there is no history to be learned from.
I was incredibly disappointed to hear what “the plan” ended up being. School districts will make their own decision about opening. The minister, via conference connection, laid out three options. They had an enormous background of information prepared for them. The resources indicated that a great deal of thought and planning had gone into the planning to make schools safe for students. But, it stopped short of giving provincial direction.
It seemed to me that there was one important voice missing in the announcement. It would have been impressive to open a few more windows and have the federation presidents appear to provide a unified message to the administration, parents, teachers, and students of the province.
I make no bones about it. I hang around with educators, both in person and online. There’s no one in my circles who is standing up and applauding that this is well-thought through decision. Instead of a lead from Toronto, the decisions will be handled locally. Hopefully, coterminous districts will get together to provide a united approach at least locally. There are a great deal of items to be concerned about; many educators have blogged or podcasted about their concerns. Mine appear here.
Even among educators, the high level plans that we’re seeing aren’t satisfying. Many elementary school educators figure the plans might work at the secondary school panel. And, of course, the secondary people feel the same way about the elementary schools. Experts know that the logistics are drastically different between the two panels. One solution does not fit all in this case.
These voices need to be heard for any solution to have a chance to be successful. Decisions can’t be just political; this is a big game with many players. They all need to be represented and have a voice in the planning and ultimate implementation.