Skip to content

Parents have mixed feelings on return to classes in the fall

Local school boards mulling over which route to take for September; Ministry will ultimately decide in August
High school students in class
(stock photo)

Some interesting numbers, not that surprising, are contained in Ontario Public School Boards Association (OPSBA)/Nanos survey results released Thursday regarding support among parents for a return to conventional schooling in Ontario in September.

“More than half (53 per cent) of Ontarians with children in the public school system are somewhat comfortable or comfortable with students, staff, and education workers returning to the school environment in September on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” the survey showed.

But the survey shows more than four in 10 Ontarians with children in the system say they are likely (12 per cent) or somewhat likely (32 per cent) to keep their child or children home from school this coming September.

Children and teens took part in online education between March and June, with summer school students continuing to do so until later this month.

“A strong majority of Ontarians with children in the public school system support (26 per cent) or somewhat support (48 per cent) a mixed model of education delivery, being provided this fall, including in-person and online delivery,” the survey showed.   

Given the relation between COVID numbers and the province’s regions, 57 per cent of northern Ontario respondents are comfortable or somewhat comfortable with students, staff and education workers returning to school, while only 45 per cent of respondents in hard hit Toronto reported feeling the same.

Nanos carried out the online survey of 2,019 Ontarians from June 23 to 28, 2020.

The survey comes as school board administrators in each public health region of Ontario, consulting with parents, public health officials and other stakeholders, mull over what course of action to take regarding education for children and teens in September.

School boards have been asked by the province to plan for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year in September by deciding on three scenarios, consisting of;

  • Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols - Students going to school every day, in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.
  • Modified school day routine - Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate day or alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time.
  • At home learning - Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their child back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. 

The Ministry of Education will ultimately decide on which scenario fits each board/region best in early August.

“ADSB will be reaching out to families in mid-July to provide information about what those scenarios can look like and then getting feedback from them through a survey on their thinking and comfort level with each of those scenarios,” wrote Lucia Reece, ADSB director of education, in an email to SooToday. 

“The survey will also ask some questions around busing and transportation as we would like to determine if parents are comfortable sending their children to school on school buses. We are encouraging parents to share feedback through this survey. Their feedback will help shape our decision making for September,” Reece wrote.

“The ministry has indicated an interest in connecting with all school boards individually during the last week of July. Once we have that meeting and the ministry makes its announcement in early August, we will be in a much better position to communicate details to everyone,” wrote Rose Burton Spohn, Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (H-SCDSB) director of education, in a reply to SooToday.

“Until that time, we want to assure our parents, students, employees, and community partners that a safe return to school is a top priority of the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board. We have been working diligently throughout July and will continue to work throughout August to allow everyone to feel as confident as they possibly can as they return to learning.”

Burton Spohn stated the Huron-Superior board is considering the various models of education put forward, working with the board’s senior team, members of CPCO, CUPE, OECTA and OSSTF (which represents the board’s noon hour aides) public health officials, transportation officials and various community agencies.