Peel schools parents reopen for in-person learning
When Suchita Jalan learned that her daughter would be returning to in-person learning, a wave of relief washed over her.
The Brampton realtor stayed home with his young daughter while she completed online kindergarten classes and said things weren’t going well.
“She’s too small to learn online,” Jalan said, explaining that she would watch her daughter fall asleep in front of the computer screen. “She didn’t take it well.”
The Peel District School Board (PDSB) is expected to resume in-person learning this week, although Monday’s snowstorm pushed back the original reopening plan. They will join students across the province in returning to class after a two-week period of virtual classes was imposed after the Christmas holidays due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
With changes in access to PCR testing, as well as tracking and monitoring of cases, students who fall ill are asked to stay home.
“I don’t think we’ve ever heard so much anxiety about returning to the classroom,” said Ryan Harper, president of the Peel Teachers’ Bargaining Unit of the Secondary School Teachers’ Federation of New York. ‘Ontario.
Harper said he hears from teachers who are terrified of the highly contagious variant of Omicron spreading through classrooms and feel like there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
The Department of Education is supplying the PDSB with 138 new HEPA filters for the board’s 259 schools.
Harper said there won’t be a filter in every class.
“There may be one or two filters in the whole school,” he said.
Some parents in the council have decided to keep their children at home for the next few weeks and opt for online learning until February 22.
“We thought about this a lot,” said Brampton resident Lisa Gilmore, who is caring for her nine-year-old granddaughter.
She said she and her husband are at higher risk, given that she recently donated a kidney to him, and they are both still recovering. She said she couldn’t afford to take the risk of having to self-isolate after an exposure.
However, Liana Cancian, a mother from Caledon, said she felt “confident” to send her four children back to in-person learning.
“I’m not afraid of it (in-person learning) because not going back to school is detrimental,” Cancian said. “I was ready for them to leave right away.”
She said her youngest daughter struggled to learn online, another daughter was still learning in person because she had special needs, and her other two children were doing well with virtual learning.
Cancian said that while her kids are “resilient” to change, she doesn’t want to see them miss out on the benefits of classroom learning and experiences with friends.
Cancian believes her family have protected themselves as best they could by following government advice to get vaccinated. Two of her children are in high school and are fully vaccinated and her two youngest daughters in primary school have received their first dose of vaccine.
“(At) the end of the day, this (COVID-19) is really going to affect everything,” Cancian said.
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