Kids heading back to the virtual classroom after winter break, despite local official’s differing opinion

Kindergarten to grade 8 learning online January 4-8, high school kids until the 25th

When kids go back to school after the winter break, they’ll do so in a virtual classroom regardless of where they were before the break started. That’s not what our medical officer of health has suggested.

The Ontario Government has announced that elementary school children across the province will attend a virtual classroom for a week starting January 4, while high school kids will attend class digitally until late January.

Students from kindergarten to grade 8 will learn remotely from January 4 to January 8 at both the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) and Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. Those who were in a physical classroom before the break started are expected to return to the brick-and-mortar school as of January 11. However, students in grades 9 through 12 will be expected to learn from home until January 25.

“It is not what we advised. We – and by we I mean many in the public health community, and my own view as well – feel that transmission in school has been very limited,” Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit medical officer of health Dr. Charles Gardner told Barrie 360. “It hasn’t been a driver of the overall cases in the community.”

Gardner adds, despite the pandemic, a child’s place should be in a classroom. “Overall, it’s really important that we strive to enable school to happen, to enable children to be able to go to school,” Gardner continued. “the younger children would be more vulnerable to the mental health impacts of withdrawal from school. They’re also less susceptible to transmission to COVID-19.”

“To me, it will be a good thing overall, when we’re able to get our children back to school,” he added, saying it’s a good thing the break was only extended a week.

Students with the SCDSB should receive coursework through the learning platform established by their teacher. Teachers will reach out to students on January 4 with details of next steps.

SMCDSB students should also have access to a virtual classroom as set up by the student’s teacher, while the board is expected to reach out next week with additional information.

In both cases, learning and completed classwork are expected to continue in the virtual environment.