Remote school damage | Press


“From kindergarten to university, many pupils and students are preparing for the start of the school year after the holiday break. A return that will unfortunately be virtual, which is not ideal for students, teachers, or parents, ”writes our columnist.

Philippe Mercury

Philippe Mercury

After 22 months of the pandemic, it shouldn’t look like a poorly prepared dress rehearsal.

From kindergarten to university, many pupils and students are preparing for the start of the school year after the holiday break. A return that will unfortunately be virtual, which is not ideal for students, teachers or parents.

Unfortunately, we can not say that it starts very well.

Many parents whose children attend the Montreal school service center learned Monday at noon that their offspring did not start school the next day as planned, but only on Wednesday. For predictability, it’s a failure.

Also on Monday, essential workers had to wait until 8:30 a.m. to find out which children would qualify for child care. The unions report that sometimes heated discussions took place between parents and educators on the doorstep.

That’s not to mention the controversy surrounding daycare centers. While the rules are tightening everywhere, Quebec has strangely lightened those of childcare, stipulating that children and educators exposed to cases no longer have to be tested or isolate themselves. The affair made the experts jump … and even led the Public Health of Montreal to suspend the measures of Quebec on its territory!

These snags may not all be dramatic, but they clearly indicate confusion. One wonders why, with the approach of such a special return to school, the Minister of Education, François Roberge, has not yet seen fit to address the population to send a clear message and respond to the many Questions. He could have been accompanied by the Minister of Families, Mathieu Lacombe.

Schools and daycares, after all, accounted for half of all outbreaks in the province before the holidays. And knowing what happens to school vaccination, for example, is an absolutely crucial question for the future …

Over the next few days, we will see to what extent the school network succeeds in its shift from a distance. But keep in mind that we will assess its performance on purely logistical bases. Basically, we will see if the children all have a computer or a tablet to follow their lessons.

As for the quality of the education given, it is more complicated.

We already know that this way of doing school is far from ideal. The Legault government is very aware of this. He has always said that keeping schools open is his priority and that is to be applauded.

Distance schooling influences motivation, anxiety and socialization. Children who are victims of violence in the home are more exposed to this violence and less easily detected.

From a pedagogical point of view, we learn less well at a distance than in class. But the decline is not the same for everyone. Virtual education widens the gaps between strong and weak students, and between those from advantaged socio-economic backgrounds and others.

At what point ? Unfortunately, we don’t know. In both June 2020 and June 2021, the Ministry’s exams were canceled. However, these uniform tests would have made it possible to measure the performance of the students among themselves and with that of previous cohorts. In short, they would have made it possible to document the harmful effects of distance schooling.

The Ministry of Education took this decision to “lower the pressure” on students. But we could have held them anyway without them counting too much in the final grade, and by explaining it to the students.

Today, without a clear diagnosis, good luck in treating the damage caused by the school from a distance. When we return to virtual education for an indefinite period of time, we would do well to ensure that we assess the consequences.

While working hard to adapt our classes to the presence of the Omicron variant without them automatically turning into outbreak sites.

source site-58