“It’s mixed,” said Diana Kortelainen, chair of the Rockland District High School parents’ council. “It’s highly dependent on your child, whether he or she is an in-person student or doing lessons at home.”
Since last spring when national, provincial, and local states of emergency were declared and the pandemic became a day-to-day reality, parents of students have had to cope with a radical change in the education situation for their children.
For the remainder of the 2019-2020 term, there was no choice. All students stayed home and school boards rushed to set up homeschooling plans.
Home learning in the past meant study workbooks for students covering math, literature, science, history and other subjects. Now electronic learning, or e-learning, became an option where students and teachers met in virtual classrooms. School boards have provided both options during the pandemic and also provided laptops to as many students as possible to make sure they would be able to take the e-learning option if they wanted.
“For some parents, though, the virtual school may not be the best,” said Kortelainen, adding some students, depending on age and other circumstances, may be too easily distracted. “They may not be able to self-discipline themselves.”
Also, Kortelainen noted, some students do better during an in-person classroom setup because they can get more one-on-one attention from a teacher when needed. Home schooling, whether with workbooks or e-learning lacks that kind of personal attention.
Kortelainen also noted that parents who have to work at home also may not be able to provide as much supervision and support as they would like for their children during homeschooling time. They also have to spend time on the computer or phone, doing their jobs, trying to meet their project and assignment deadlines.
Kortelainen emphasized that both the school boards and the teachers have rallied to provide help and support for both students and parents of students. “What we’ve seen especially from the teachers has been phenomenal,” she said. “Also, we parents try to connect with each other via social media for advice and support.”
One handicap, Kortelainen noted, for many parents of school-age children in rural areas is a lack of good Internet service. Some children have no choice but to do their studies out of workbooks because e-learning is not an option.
“This is a real issue,” Kortelainen said. “Some people struggle to have good Internet service. That’s a huge impediment to trying to do schooling from home.”