UCDSB raise remote learning concerns to SDG Council

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By Nick Seebruch
UCDSB raise remote learning concerns to SDG Council
UCDSB Chair John McAllister presenting to the United Counties of SD&G Council.

CORNWALL, Ontario – At their meeting on Monday, May 17, the United Counties of SD&G Council heard concerns from the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) about the potential permanency of remote learning.

Like all other school boards, the UCDSB had to begin offering online remote learning options to their students as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools currently have been restricted to remote learning since Spring Break in April.

“The key issue is this: remote learning had to be implemented during the pandemic and this pandemic response should not be a permanent remote learning option,” UCDSB Chair John McAllister told Council. “The ministry seems to be hell bent for leather to increase student access to online and remote learning.”

“This possible expansion is a serious threat to small rural schools,” McAllister added.

In late March, The Globe and Mail obtained a confidential provincial government presentation that proposed making remote learning a permanent option for students.

McAllister explained that remote learning could seriously hinder how the UCDSB delivers education.

“If in a small secondary school, if there are only 15 students that select Grade 12 physics, and five of these students select it as an online option, there would be only 10 students left for in-person learning,” he said. “That in-person class might well be cancelled thereby jeopardizing the graduation requirement for those 10 students or forcing them to study online or forcing them to travel long distances to another school.”

“This remote learning program will come from existing dollars thereby eroding in-person learning,” he added.

SDG Councillor Kristen Gardner, Deputy Mayor of South Dundas agreed with McAllister’s conclusions and said that in-person learning in rural schools was something that Council should advocate for.

“It will have a huge impact on our rural schools and a huge impact on our students. I really despise the fact that the government is focusing on the education topic and not on the other things that you learn like working with classmates,” she said.”As a parent, the online learning for elementary kids is just brutal. You’re taking a strong student that loves going to school to seeing them falter to the point that some parents are taking their students out all together. We are right at the cross roads where we need to scream as loud as we can that rural communities aren’t going to receive a second class education.”

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