Hamilton

Students worry as COVID-19 forces Ontario to keep schools closed past April 6

Local students and their families say the school closures caused by the novel coronavirus may make life after high school harder and will kill chances of experiencing a prom or graduation ceremony.

'Everyone from my year and onwards will just fail university or have to drop out'

Local students worry about graduating and potentially missing high school milestones like their graduation ceremony and prom as precautionary measures against COVID-19 shut down Ontario schools. (Shutterstock)

Quinn Talukdar dreamed about getting into the University of Waterloo and graduating with everything he needed to become an astrophysicist — but now the 17-year-old student at Beamsville District Secondary School is worried that he won't be able to make that dream come true.

The Talukdar family and others are reeling after Premier Doug Ford said on Monday students wouldn't return to class on April 6 as the number of COVID-19 cases in the province continues to rise.

"I feel very disappointed because without [learning] my credits from school, I will most likely fail university or if they just give them to us without us earning them or doing the right thing, everyone from my year and onwards will just fail university or have to drop out," he told CBC News.

"It's not realistic," he said.

Quinn Talukdar worries the extended school closure amid COVID-19 concerns will lead him to fail university or drop out, shattering his dreams of becoming an astrophysicist. (Submitted by Heidi Talkudar)

The province already created an online learning portal to help prevent students from falling behind and is looking at expanding online courses.

"I've tried online courses before and they never work out too well," Talukdar said. "I'd rather have it explained in front of me than have to learn it myself on a laptop."

'No prom or grad'

For Kylie Douglas, a Grimsby Secondary School student also poised to graduate, the online courses are mostly irrelevant — her classes are hands-on, trades courses including construction and manufacturing.

Other concerns about e-learning revolve around access to technology, which some families don't have.

Kylie Douglas, the only girl on the Grimsby Secondary School football team, said e-learning won't do much to help her since her courses are mainly hands-on trades classes. (Submitted by Elaine Douglas)

While both students said the board has reassured them their grades won't be affected by the shift to learning at home, Douglas said she's missing out on the "high school experience."

Douglas and Talukdar both agree, however, that staying out of school is the best choice.

"Even people who do have it wouldn't show symptoms all the time, so it is the safer option," Douglas said.

Talukdar, however, wishes Ontario had a different system.

"I know some places in the world, they do the online schooling or the video calls and explain through that. I feel like that would be a lot better than just doing nothing or just strictly online, so people could still work from home and I could still learn."

School boards planning next moves

Local school boards are now plotting their next move after learning classes will not be resuming in early April.

The District School Board of Niagara wrote on its website it has "official details at this time."

The Ontario government announced Friday the launch if Learn at Home, a new online portal for students shut out of their schools as part of the province's effort to contain COVID-19. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board said teachers are working at full-capacity.

Hamilton's public school board has not provided any information about how it will educate students remotely this week.

"We're still compiling essential information for staff and families. We are also engaging in conversations with the Ministry of Education. We absolutely will share information once we're able to," said HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop.

About the Author

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

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