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'I feel like we’re being told to just figure it out:' OCDSB parents on hybrid school weeks this fall

Parents voiced their dismay at Thursday night’s school board meeting over Zoom, which was also playing out live on YouTube.
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File photo.

Despite the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s efforts to work with the province on a back-to-school plan, parents continue to struggle with the idea of a hybrid in-classroom and virtual setup — a move parents say will simply just not work.

Parents voiced their dismay at Thursday night’s school board meeting over Zoom, which was also playing out live on YouTube.

Dozens of parents described their situation as “frustrating,” although they understood a pandemic was still in effect. 

“We need a better plan because we can possibly go through this for years,” Ariel Troster, parent of an 8-year-old, said. 

For Troster, in order for a hybrid to work, students would require more fluidity than what is currently set out in the plan.

For Neil Barratt, the return to full-time classroom teaching is the only way — but with enhanced health and safety measures in place. 

“We’re so focused on opening up stores and restaurants but ignoring the needs of kids,”Barrat said. “We could go golfing months ago, but my kids can’t play on a playground and suffer permanent setbacks in learning and development.”

He added: “Going forward with anything less than a full return will be a disaster that will affect the most vulnerable and marginalized in our communities.”

Mother Lee Patriquin agrees.

“I feel like we’re being told to just figure it out,” she said.

If anything, Patriquin, who is a mom to four kids (7, 9, 12 and 16), believes parents should be compensated for acting as educators during the time of the pandemic, if the province doesn’t want to hire more teachers.

The idea of hiring more teachers was a common theme among parents Thursday night. Some said it would take the burden off of parents from teaching their kids while they struggled with also working full-time jobs.

Nathan Gordon, a parent of three primary school aged kids, would like to see that five day a week classroom time as well. But if that’s not an option, even considering a four-day school work and one day of virtual class time would be better — as a last resort.

Jessica Haynes, on the other hand, has a daughter entering grade one who is on the autism spectrum. According to Haynes, her daughter didn’t respond well to e-learning, so the option the board and province has decided to go forward with this fall isn’t practical, nor possible. 

The curriculum, she says, would have to be modified.

Trustee Donna Blackburn, who was criticized for a “racist” confrontation she had with a Black teenager, was on the Zoom meeting call, but did not speak. Her name was briefly mentioned by Barratt, who commended the board for their response on the matter.




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