Families in the London region are being advised to plan for a possibe return to remote learning after the Christmas Break.
The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) sent a letter to families Wednesday advising children to empty their school lockers and take all their belongings home with them before Friday, Dec. 17.
“So my advice to students and to families is, out of an abundance of caution, take anything home that you need to of a personal nature or of a learning nature, a device… just in case we have to pivot over to remote learning in January,” said TVDSB Director of Education Mark Fisher.
For parent Samantha Waite and her daughter, 10-year-old Reah, the not knowing is the hardest part.
“Like enough is enough kind of thing, but I understand they’re just trying to keep people safe you know but…” said Samantha.
Reah said said taking classes online is not her favourite, “I don’t really want to go back to remote learning. I like being in person and seeing my friends.”
The advice from the school board comes as COVID-19 continues a rapid spread through schools, this time with the onset of the highly contageous Omicron variant.
Samantha Waite, right, with her 10-year-old daughter Reah in London, Ont. on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (Bryan Bicknell / CTV News)
“To describe it as a shambles I think would be about as accurate as we can get,” said Craig Smith, the president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario Thames Valley Local.
“If we were having this conversation a week ago there was increasing concern about the tragectory of cases in schools,” he added. “Concern a week ago is now alarm at the rate which this is spreading.”
At this point there has been no formal announcement from the province on remote learning in the new year. Smith said that’s what makes it so frustrating for all involved.
“The pivot to a virtual format for whatever period of time isn’t an easy one. There are real implications for teachers. There are implications obviously for students. And then parents of course have to make some arrangements.”
It’s something Waite knows all about. “Leaving it up in the air, you know? How are you supposed to get everything settled and squared away for to have somebody to take care of your children while you’re away at work?”
In addition, rapid antigen test kits are being sent home with students. Education officials are also reminding families that if they leave the country, unvaccinated children under 12 cannot come back to school for 14 days once they have re-entered Canada.