Newcomer families at F.W. Begley school seeking help understanding COVID outbreak details

Families from F.W. Begley Public School in Windsor Ont., are still waiting to hear how learning will resume virtually after an outbreak of COVID-19 dismissed the entire school earlier this week.

'Technology is another burden' for newcomer families at F.W. Begley Public School

F. W. Begley Public School in Windsor is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak. All staff and students are to remain at home for the next 14 days. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Many of the new Canadian families that attend F.W Begley Public School are turning to local immigration support agencies to help them understand the school outbreak protocols and plans for online learning.

The shutdown has left many families concerned about possible exposure to the virus, and parents are still waiting to hear how learning will resume virtually after an outbreak of COVID-19 dismissed the entire school earlier this week. 

English is the second language for many of the newcomer families seeking those same answers.

Rima Nohra, of the New Canadians Centre of Excellence, said her centre has received many requests from families who are looking to understand the latest news from the school and to get help with the technology needed for students to learn at home

"Technology is another burden to try to figure out everything to be able to help their children to learn online. It is in a way peace of mind because they have their kids at home, but again that extra frustration dealing with technology is not great," she said.

"We assign... workers to work with them with their own language. So that gives them peace of mind. We also translate every guidance or instructions step by step on how to do everything, how to use those online portals," explained Nohra.

Aisha Bustani, mother of three F.W. Begley students, receives support from the New Canadians Centre of Excellence.

She told CBC News through an interpreter that their family has yet to receive an iPad or necessary technology from the school to learn online.

Aisha Bustani has three children who attend F.W. Begley. She said their family has yet to find out how learning will resume from home after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the school. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

She said past experiences with online learning through a different school was challenging for her family, and she feels an in class learning environment is more beneficial for her children.

Bustani, who moved to Canada from Syria, said her kid's educational level has decreased due to the changing learning formats during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak at the school was declared, Bustani said her and her husband have been concerned about the health of their children, along with the other families at the school, and they are currently waiting for COVID-19 test results for one of their children.

The board had a superintendent along with four public health nurses and some school staff members, attended F.W Begley Thursday morning to field questions from parents. Written communication about the outbreak was handed out to families in both Arabic and English.

GECDSB superintendent of education Sharon Pyke told CBC News earlier this week that the board is figuring out the logistics but hopes to resume learning by the end of the week. 

Outbreak 'scary no matter what' for one remote learning family

Joel Wyscaver and his wife Catherine woke up to the news Thursday about the school closure. He said the news of the recent outbreak has made them feel happy about their decision to enroll their family in remote learning for the year, instead of sending their three children back to F.W Begley.

Joel Wyscaver has three children who attend F.W. Begley Public School. This year they've been learning online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"It's definitely a little bit of weight off of our shoulders knowing that this was always a possibility, and as much as you hope that it doesn't happen and pray that it doesn't happen, this is exactly kind of the reason why we kept them home in case something like this did happen," said Wyscaver in an interview with CBC.

Wyscaver said because his children are still somewhat involved in the school community, the outbreak has still been a "scary" experience for his family.

"We literally live, you know, a stone's throw away ... no matter what, it's something you have to be very cautious and aware of. It's it's kind of scary no matter what," he said.

As of Wednesday, three staff members from F.W Begley were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19, according the the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. As a result, more than 400 students and staff from the Windsor-Essex elementary school have been sent home.

This is the region's first school outbreak and the first time an entire Windsor-Essex school has been sent home.

There are more questions than answers for parents and students at Begley Public School in Windsor. Tony Doucette speak with Kristen Siapas, the chair of the board's parent committee about the top concerns for parents. 9:07