Virtual School Meanderings

July 29, 2021

New report on early learning, back to school plans

Filed under: virtual school — Michael K. Barbour @ 6:04 pm
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An item from an Ontario-based, general education advocacy organization.

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Time to make early learning and childcare part of public education

People for Education’s latest report includes recommendations for policy change to make quality non-profit early learning and childcare part of our publicly funded, publicly governed, public education systems.

This is not a call for the “schoolification” of childcare, but rather the opposite. The report calls for early learning and childcare to be recognized as a key component on a continuum of learning, and for change in elementary and secondary schools so that skills developed in early childhood do not “fade out” when children enter grade 1.

The report also says in Ontario 84% of elementary schools with high average family incomes have onsite childcare, compared to 66% of schools with low average family incomes.

Recently both Toronto and Ottawa city councils passed motions calling on the provincial government to negotiate quality, funded childcare agreements with the federal government. The evidence and recommendations in People for Education’s new report support this change.

Read the press release
Read the full report

New report from health experts calls for return to in-person learning in the fall

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table, children’s hospitals, academics and experts have collaborated on a return to school report. The report notes that “school closures and elimination of extracurricular activities for children have had substantial deleterious impact on their physical and mental health” and that “Ontario had the longest interruption of face-to-face learning in Canada.”

The report includes the following recommendations:

  • Ensure there is a period of (re-)adjustment for both students and staff at the beginning of the school year to address student’s mental health concerns, support students with special needs, and provide additional time and attention for students who may have fallen behind.
  • Implement school closures and distance learning only in the “most catastrophic of circumstances.”
  • Institute “robust” vaccination campaigns including targeted campaigns in communities more severely impacted by COVID-19 and on-site school-based vaccine clinics for students and their families.
  • Invest in schools’ heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, with a priority on schools that don’t meet ventilation standards.
  • Implement masking and physical distancing strategies depending on the level of “disease burden and risk”:
    • Low risk (limited severe disease requiring hospitalization): permissive approach to masking, and no requirement for physical distancing or cohorting
    • Moderate (early signs of upward trajectory) and high risk (high rates of severe disease and hospitalization): cohorting and age-dependent masking in kindergarten and elementary school students; masking with or without physical distancing in middle and high school students.
Read the full report

Ontario back-to-school plans remain unclear

Ontario has yet to release a detailed plan for the return to school in September. In contrast, British Columbia’s Ministry of Education has a detailed plan on its website, and policy makers meet regularly with a collaborative stakeholder team to coordinate planning. Nova Scotia and other provinces have also published comprehensive plans back-to-school plans.

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