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Province’s decisions are “emotional rollercoaster” for educators

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Rob Hammond, President of the Near North Elementary Teachers Union, says educators are getting tired of the provincial government’s decisions regarding schools during the pandemic.

“It’s an emotional rollercoaster of indecision without any end in sight,” Hammond said. “There’s a lot of frustration among our members with how the government handles things…In the long run, it’s the students who suffer.”

Monday saw Premier Doug Ford announce students across the province will move to virtual learning following this week’s spring break.

That went against what Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, wrote in a letter to parents just one day prior stating in-person learning will resume following the break with enhanced safety measures.

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“It doesn’t surprise any of us as educators,” Hammond said on the sudden change. “Time and again, the provincial government has demonstrated they are floundering badly due to poor decision-making and the implementation of half measures while continuously ignoring the scientific and medical experts’ advice.”

Students and teachers in the North Bay-Parry Sound District have only been subjected to two weeks of virtual learning following the Christmas break.

Hammond says teachers are up to the task of providing remote instruction but believes the local health unit should be able to make the decision on whether or not to have children in the classroom.

One fear Hammond has with the latest announcement is the lack of internet connectivity in some parts of the region.

“We just do not have the bandwidth to reach some of those children. Are they going to lose out? Absolutely,” he said.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit indicated last Thursday that it is in support of in-person learning for students in the region.

“We know that being at school with peers and Educators has a positive impact on our children and youth’s social, emotional and physical well-being; so considering all of these factors the health unit is very supportive of continuing in-person learning for students in the district during the provincial shutdown,” said Shannon Mantha,  Executive Director of Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer for the Health Unit.

The area’s school boards have indicated parents will be notified for further details on remote learning.

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