Parents, students express relief at revised OCDSB plan, but questions linger
New plan includes staggered start, more in-class instruction for high school students
There's relief among some students and parents surrounding the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board's (OCDSB) revised plan, but some details still remain unclear.
The board notified parents of changes to its back-to-school plan Wednesday, including a staggered start to the school year and more in-class instruction for high school students.
Secondary students will still be divided into cohorts, but will no longer alternate between two and three mornings per week in school, for as few as five hours per week. Instead, they will attend school on alternating days, with two 112.5-minute periods of instruction plus study hall.
"I think it's really important that we're back in class soon," said Emma Charland, who is heading into Grade 12 at Glebe Collegiate Institute. She's been eager to get back to class since schools closed their doors in March.
"It's definitely been very strange. It's been an experience that I'm not sure I want to go through with again."
She believes the OCDSB's revised plan is better, but with more time spent in class in each period, she's worried about student attention spans.
She's also unsure how easy it will be to get back in the mindset that it's OK to be around other people who aren't in her social bubble.
"We've been taught the past six months to stay away from large groups of people," she said. "And that's basically what we're about to do."
Jennifer Howes's 14-year-old daughter, Charlie, is starting Grade 9 at Canterbury High School. Overall, she thinks the revised plan is workable and better for students but she still worries about how some students will manage on the days they're expected to learn from home, even if they have all the technology they need.
"It can be really difficult to motivate yourself to learn and to work when you're all by yourself and so, if they're going to be doing that, half the time, I think that that has the potential to have problems," she said.
Her daughter still hasn't been told which courses she'll be taking in the first quadmester and she wonders what will happen if students are saddled with two difficult courses in the condensed timeframe.
Questions linger for teachers
There are also a number of questions swirling for teachers who are set to return to the classroom next month.
Teachers need to rejig the pacing of their lessons because courses are happening over a shorter period of time, said Stephanie Kirkey, interim president of the local bargaining unit for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.
"Changes are always possible, but not to the scale and certainly, rarely, this late in the summer before starting the school year."
There are also a number of questions around how they'll be kept safe inside the classroom, she said. Teachers are set to receive training on COVID-19 precautions before school begins.
Overall, she said teachers are anxious and eager to return because they miss their students.