Why these kids changed their minds about going to school in person

Story by CBC Kids News • 2020-09-16 11:22

10,000 students in Ontario's Peel Region switched to online learning last minute

“I miss my friends.”

That’s how Aveer Kewalramani, 8, feels about learning virtually this fall.

He and his sister Anika Kewalramani, 5, were set to go to their Mississauga school in person, but their parents changed their minds on Sept. 9.

They’re not the only ones.

Mississauga is part of Peel Region, which is located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The region has become a hot spot for COVID-19 in Ontario.

“Peel and the GTA is at the epicentre of the [COVID-19] battle in Canada.” — Brampton mayor Patrick Brown

Many parents are making last-minute decisions and choosing not to send their kids to school in person this year.

In fact, the Peel District School Board says more than 10,000 of its students have switched from in-person to online learning last week alone.

A map showing where Peel Region and Toronto are located in Ontario.

Because many families are still making last-minute decisions, Aveer said he doesn’t know yet whether or not his friends will be learning online with him.

Despite missing in-person interactions, Aveer said he’s relieved to be staying home.

“The coronavirus is scary right now,” he said. “I’m kind of worried.”

Anika and Aveer smiling and standing in front of a laptop.

Although Anika and Aveer would rather go to school in person if it weren’t for COVID-19, they say they understand why they are staying home. (Image submitted by Vikram Kewalramani)

Many students still going back in person

Despite a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in her region, Isla Promoli is thrilled to be going back to school.

“It was awesome,” she said of her first day of in-person orientation last week.

“I liked that I was actually back with all my friends.”

Isla, 9, and her brother Thomas, 6, started school on Wednesday.

Thomas and Isla Promoli wearing masks and matching hats.

Thomas and Isla Promoli started school in person this week but are nervous about COVID-19 cases in their area. (Image submitted by Jill Promoli)

She and her parents considered the virtual learning option, but ultimately decided it worked better for the whole family if she went back to class at her Mississauga school.

Despite the excitement, Isla is still feeling a bit worried.

“I’m a little nervous,” she said. “Just because we’re wearing masks doesn’t mean we won’t get infected.”

Isla smiling in front of a lake.

Isla said she’s happy she can see her friends face-to-face, but is aware of the high number of COVID-19 cases in areas near her. (Image submitted by Jill Promoli)

Like Isla’s mom Jill Promoli, many parents say they’re nervous about class sizes and the fact that education decisions are being made at the last minute.

“We looked at two bad options and picked the one that they preferred,” Promoli said.

The family plans to monitor COVID-19 case numbers in the area as more kids head back to school and they may reassess the situation later. 

“We’re sort of taking it a day at a time.”

A map showing Canada's COVID-19 curve, based on daily new cases of COVID-19 in Canada. The curve reached its peak on May 3, but has been slowly increasing since mid-August.

Brampton mayor ‘can appreciate’ families’ hesitation

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said he understands why families are worried.

“I can appreciate why there's apprehension with families sending their children to school. Peel and the GTA is at the epicentre of the battle in Canada,” Brown told CBC News.

Meanwhile, the Peel District School Board says more than 64,000 students are now enrolled in its online school.

That means the board has to make staffing and timetable changes to its online school.

A boy looking at an iPad.

As of data from last week, Peel Region had the largest number of active cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in Ontario, with more than both Toronto and Ottawa. (Image credit: Genevieve Tardif/CBC)

For students learning online like Aveer and Anika, those changes mean they’re completing online projects this week but won’t start their virtual classes until next week.

“These are truly unprecedented times, and we appreciate your patience and understanding,” the school board said in a letter to families.


With files from CBC Toronto 

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