Why parts of Canada are returning to online learning

Story by CBC Kids News • 2021-01-05 12:11
UPDATE:On Jan. 7, Quebec's premier announced that elementary schools would resume on Jan. 11 as planned, but high schools (Grades 7-11) would have one extra week of online learning.

It’s all about finding positivity, says teen

Thousands of students who would normally be going back to school this week are once again learning from home.

That’s because many provinces including Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba have put strict COVID-19 restrictions back in place.

“I don't think it's like a really bad thing because we’re not going to go online for that long,” said Valor Lopez, a 12-year-old from Montreal.

In Quebec, the plan is to be back in school by next week.

One of Valor Lopez’s favourite socially distanced activities is axe- or knife-throwing. He got this bull’s eye right before Christmas. (Image submitted by: Sharon Lopez)

“But if we’re going online longer, then I definitely wouldn't enjoy it as much as going physically to school,” the Grade 7 student added. “Because you can’t really interact with your friends.”

Do lockdowns work?

“It depends on how you define success,” said Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Ottawa.

“If you cannot interact with people, you cannot pass the disease on, so it always works,” he told CBC Kids News.

But everyone must follow the rules and you have to be patient.

Who is on lockdown?

The word many people are using is lockdown, but it’s important to understand what that is.

“It's not a full lockdown,” said Deonandan. “We can still go out of our houses.”

But we shouldn’t leave our houses unless it’s absolutely necessary: like for food or other necessities.

That means kids are being kept at home in some provinces as well.

The rules and terms are different depending on where you live.

Even within Ontario, where it’s been called a “shutdown,” regions with more cases will have restrictions in place for longer.

an empty classroom

Schools are empty this week in provinces like Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Students are online learning online. (Image credit: Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

In Quebec, elementary and high schools have switched to online learning for one week.

Alberta switched to online learning on Nov. 30, 2020, until Jan. 11 for all students.

In Manitoba, online learning is mandatory for high school students and optional for elementary students.

Why are we doing it again?

According to Deonandan, it isn’t that lockdown didn’t work the first time.

A second wave of cases was something scientists predicted before.

“When the weather gets cold, we go back inside. We can't really keep our distance from each other and so transmission goes up again,” said Deonandan.

“When the hospitals start to fill up, then we have to do something a little more extreme.”

Deonandan knows that lockdowns aren’t popular.

“Nobody wants them,” he said. “It's just that if you're going to do them, do them well, do them long enough and make sure you spend the time constructively.”

Students like Jasmine Renee Singh, a 13-year-old from Whitby, Ontario, do feel lonely during shutdown, but she said the number of cases happening are much sadder.

“It's almost like heartbreaking to see all of these cases happening — that it's happening a second time now,” said Jasmine. 

How to get through distance learning

So you might have to wait a little longer before getting back in the classroom and seeing your friends in person.

What can you do to help pass the time?

Valor said he likes to use the instant messaging app Discord to keep in touch with his friends.

“We just talk, play games and use text,” he said.

Jasmine Renee Singh has been focusing on her health during Ontario’s shutdown by starting new activities like journaling. (Image submitted by: Mala Singh)

Jasmine also takes time to connect with friends.

“Something I've been doing is trying to get [together] a quarantine group of friends,” she said.

“I know that I'm going to be able to talk positively about COVID [with them] and try to see maybe the brighter side.”

“I'm trying my best to find positivity.”

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