"I rise on International Teachers’ Day to celebrate the amazing work that Ontario teachers are doing in the age of COVID-19. As public health experts emphasize the critical importance of physical distancing and gatherings of no more than 10, in-class teachers are in cramped classrooms with as many as 30 students, while rooms down the hall sit empty because of this government’s stubborn refusal to reduce class sizes.
Online teachers are grappling with challenging technology issues. I talked to London West parent Anna Foat, whose two sons, age 6 and 9, are learning online. Anna says, “We have every advantage: a mom who has flexible work and time to do IT support,” and sons with their own Chromebooks who are being taught by “brand new enthusiastic teachers,” yet they are all frustrated by provincially mandated digital tools and systems that do not work together; by login and authentication errors that regularly reduce her sons to tears; by unrealistic expectations that parents will download, print or reproduce worksheets, then upload or use a webcam if they have one to record the assignment.
Speaker, this government had six months to plan for the safe reopening of schools. Instead, they chose to ignore crucial public health recommendations for safe in-school learning and to flood schools with uncoordinated remote learning devices. We are profoundly grateful for the dedication and professionalism of teachers who are rising above the chaos and doing everything they can to help students learn."