“The classroom I will be setting up is the one I don’t want my son in”

Article by Valerie MacDonald

This is the third in a three-part series of stories looking at changes coming to rural and urban schools – both elementary and high school – due to the pandemic. In this article, a mother with a student returning to school who is also a teacher talks about the difficulties she faces. Also there is a look at where parents can find information and some discussion about student numbers, who is going back to school and who is staying home.

A teacher with the local Catholic school board with a son in the local public school board is conflicted about what the situation will be for her, her son and her students when they return to their respective classrooms next week.

“The classroom I will be setting up is the one I don’t want my son in,” said the elementary school teacher who spoke with the News Now Network on the proviso she is not named.

“There is no way a two-metre distance” can be achieved in most classrooms while “keeping masks on little ones will be very challenging” and the positive learning environment students are used to will be eroded by cutting out group projects, keeping students apart, as well as in their desks for long periods of time, she explained.

“The style of teaching will be very different.”

When she asked her 11-year-old son was he worried about going back to public school, he replied that he was concerned that if he gets sick with COVID-19 that he will bring it home to the rest of the family.

That brings up the whole issue of “what are the next steps” if a student gets ill or if there is an outbreak at a school, she said. “We don’t have those answers.”

Asked about concerns for her own safety, the woman said she understands the Catholic school where she teaches will supply masks to teachers “but I don’t know about face shields.”

She said she will find out more during meetings starting Wednesday of this week, the first day teachers are officially back on the job.

One positive thing is that teaching in a county environment where there are fewer reported COVID-19 cases is better than in a large urban area like the GTA, she noted.

To date, the teacher said she has received more information as a parent with a child in the local public school board than as a teacher with the Catholic Board where the staggered start brings all of the students back at the same time two days earlier than the public board. She already knows the days next week that her son will go to school, she added.

(The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic (PVNC) District School Board just recently set out its return schedule and you find that under “news” on its website https://www.pvnccdsb.on.ca/.)

She said even a bus driver she talked to “hadn’t heard anything” about their upcoming work schedule.

(Parents can check about busing information for their students by going to the Student Transportation Services of Central Ontario (www.stsco.ca) several school principals told the News Now Network.

To find out the latest information about the local public system, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, go to http://www.kprschools.ca/en.html where there are quick links to transportation, schools, registration, etc.

In the section about a COVID-19 update, there is a precise of a letter outlining illness protocols from the Education Ministry and what it contains including “Updates to illness protocols to deal with students who become ill while they are at school, including how they will be cared for by staff and provided with personal protective equipment;

– The critical importance of parents screening their children every day before school, and keeping them at home if they are ill

– The ways school communities will be updated if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID- 19, and the immediate contact tracing that will begin by local health authorities; and

– Situations where required classes or cohorts of students will be recommended for testing or sent home, or where the school will be closed until public health officials determine it is safe for students and staff to return.


“We know that the health and safety of your children, our students, is your greatest priority. Along with the health and wellness of our staff, we want to assure you that we share that priority,” the public board website states. 

“As mentioned…we are presently working together with our health units on this newly released guidance document, and will update parents and guardians on our enhanced measures as they are finalized.”

Meantime, a significant number of parents have opted not to send their children back to school and to use on-line learning instead.

The following are the numbers from the local Catholic Board.

Cobourg – 249 students – Elementary = 78 , Secondary = 171

Port Hope – 54 Elementary students

The students at St. Mary’s High School in Cobourg total 834 with 663 in class and 171 remote learners, according to statistics provided by the Catholic board’s spokesperson Galen Eagle.

When asked about the total number of elementary Catholic board students this year in both Cobourg and Port Hope and how that compares to last year, he stated that “this year, there are 769 in-class learners and 132 remote learners for a total of 901 students.”

The News Now Networks attempts to reach the public board’s communications department for statistics, and the Cobourg Collegiate Institute principal for details about the return of students to school were unsuccessful.

#kpr,#kawarthapineridgedistrictschoolboard, #peterboroughvictorianorthumberland&claringtoncatholicdistrictschoolboard,#backtoschool,#northumberland

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