Parents are right to be concerned about back-to-school plans.
Upon learning that multiple cohorts, or learning groups, are going to at least sometimes be in the same classrooms, it’s not surprising that people are worried.
The language the province used up until recently had many believing that these 60-to-120-person groups were almost always going to be siloed off from each other. People in those groups would be divided into 20-to-30-person classes and usually never see people from other groups, many of us assumed.
With the news that multiple learning groups could be in the same class for hours at a time, it’s no wonder that some people are doing a double-take.
From our own past school experiences, many are wondering if classrooms are big enough to allow students from multiple different learning groups to stay within a tight bubble at all times. Perhaps if the children are glued to their seats?
Even the concept of learning groups has been questioned.
Many have already raised eyebrows that these groups exceed the 50-person limit mandated by our provincial health officer, though officials have said this policy is justifiable because school facilities will be a far more controlled environment.
We must concede, however, that adding at least 60 people to your bubble is bound to have an effect of some sort. We’ve all played the game of six degrees of separation.
It is also very unclear about what will happen once the end-of-school bell rings. Students will naturally want to congregate with their friends on school grounds like playgrounds and parking lots. They will likely mingle with people outside their cohort.
School officials have said that they expect students will understand the gravity of the situation and separate themselves accordingly. But, especially with younger children, will this always be the case? Even adults have difficulty with this.
That being said, we should recognize officials have it tough. They are doing everything they can to make the best out of a bad situation. At the end of the day, kids have to go to school.
Students need social interaction. They need their teachers, counsellors, educational assistants and more, who all do wonderful jobs. We thank those working in schools for their efforts and know that being under this much scrutiny can’t be easy.
The school board acknowledged this, saying people will naturally be apprehensive. However, they must understand their often-repeated answer of saying that they are only following orders from the province has been less than reassuring for many.