For or against online courses? The parties are divided in Ontario

Ontario is one of the few provinces, along with British Columbia, where primary and secondary school children can continue their education online in 2022-2023 if they wish.

Despite declining cases of COVID-19, the Ontario Ministry of Education says the goal is: to ensure that students and families are supported and respected in making the decision that works best for them.

The Doug Ford administration also announced last February that students in grades 9 to 12 must now complete at least two online credits to graduate from high school unless there is an exemption.

The Liberal Party accuses Doug Ford and the progressive conservatives of wanting to make online education permanent for K-12 students and of privatizing this way of learning.

In front of [les conservateurs]it’s just another way to reduce public education, increase class sizes, and save money on students’ backs.

A quote from Andrea Ernesaks, Liberal Party spokesperson

However, the liberals do not want to abolish online courses immediately, saying that this way of learning may work for some students and familiesBut it should always be optionalsays Mrs Ernesaks.

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca has also promised to withdraw the administration of all online courses for French speakers from the TFO station if he takes power.

The VVD would also ban hybrid training from 2022-2023, where the teacher must both teach in class and speak into a microphone for other students taking the course at home on a computer.

For its part, the NDP promises to eliminate online courses altogether, even optional courses.

Online learning during the pandemic has clearly shown us that children learn best in the classroom, face to face with caring teachers and teaching staff to support them.

A quote from Nina Amrov, Press Secretary of the New Democrat

For the NDP, online courses should only be used as a backup solution, if the pandemic again forces schools to close.

The Progressive Conservative Party has not responded to our request for comment.

In British Columbia, the government explains that online courses were an option before the pandemic and will continue to be offered next year, while highlighting the benefits of personalized learning for students’ intellectual, social well-being and emotions.

What the experts think

Education professor at TÉLUQ University Steve Bissonnette begs parents not to enroll their children in a virtual school.

It’s a very bad choicehe says, about online courses.

Rarely in my career as a researcher have I seen such convergent literature demonstrating the extremely negative effects of this type of education, both on the child’s performance and developmental aspects.

A quote from Steve Bissonnette, professor of education
Steve Bissonnette interviewed on Zoom.

Education professor Steve Bissonnette of TÉLUQ University encourages parents to send their child to school in person, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Photo: Radio Canada

He cites research conducted in the United States, particularly Florida, where online courses have been offered for two decades, showing that even the most gifted students do less well in virtual mode, both in elementary and middle school. secondary school.

Our American neighbours, they are looking for the magic potion [avec les cours en ligne] for 20 years and they haven’t found it!

A quote from Steve Bissonnette, Online Course Specialist

For him, online courses should only be a solution for repair such as at the start of the pandemic or in very specific and temporary situations, such as that of a student who is ill or subject to bullying.

University of Ottawa psychology professor Nafissa Ismail says: it’s good to have the option† She gives the example of parents in precarious health who may prefer that their children do not attend school in person this fall, to reduce the risk of being infected with COVID.

However, she advises parents to weigh the pros and cons.

I would tell parents to see how their child performed when education was only virtual. Did he seem to feel more isolated? Did he have learning difficulties?

A quote from Nafissa Ismail, professor at the Brain Research Institute at the University of Ottawa
Nafissa Ismail interviewed on Zoom.

According to University of Ottawa psychology professor Nafissa Ismail, online courses can harm a child’s socialization.

Photo: Radio Canada

Professor Ismail advises against online classes for students under 10, who had observations during the pandemic even more difficulty concentrating and staying involved during class

She adds that the real school integration personal is especially important for children who go to school.

Concerned Teachers

Association of Franco-Ontarian Teachers (AEFO), Anne Vinet-Roy, said: concerned about the impact of the virtual option on the learning and well-being of both staff and students

We believe that personalized instruction is the best option for providing learning environments in which staff and students can thrive.

A quote from Anne Vinet-Roy, President of the AEFO

She says the union will continue to monitor the situation next year.

Anne Vinet-Roy grants an interview via conference call.

According to AEFO president Anne Vinet-Roy, face-to-face education is the ideal form of learning.

Photo: Radio Canada

Karen Littlewood, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF), says teaching classes online is a another example of the Ford government dumping its responsibilities on the backs of parents

Parents still have to choose between online or face-to-face learning for their child’s education, she says, because this government has mishandled the pandemic.

She adds that online courses accentuate inequalities between students, as the offerings vary by school board.

The Federation of Primary Education Teachers (FEEO) for its part qualifies irresponsible and illogical the Ford government’s decision to continue to require schools to offer online classes in September.

It is the responsibility of the government to create a safe learning environment for all students in the school. But instead of making the necessary adjustments, they continue to expand education resources and put additional pressure on school boards, teachers and teaching staff by demanding that they also offer online courses next school year.said the president of the ETFOKaren Brown, in a press release published last February.

Paul Baril interviewed on Zoom.

The president of the Parents Partners in Education group, Paul Baril, says that only a minority of parents enroll their child in the virtual school.

Photo: Radio Canada

More money, say parents

Paul Baril, president of the Ontario group Parents Partners in Education, has no objection to the government continuing to offer online learning as an option for parents who feel uncomfortable with their child returning to face-to-face school

That said, he wouldn’t want it to come at the expense of funding personal instruction.

In the minds of many parents, we are watering down a system by allocating resources that went for the classroom, who now have to go to virtual education as well.

A quote from Paul Baril, President of Parents Partners in Education

If the new government continues online learning after the election, Mr. Baril plans to demand more money for education.

We must spend and not cut back on education or water down because we know our children are falling behind because of the pandemiche said.

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