By Rori Bennett – Junior Reporter
After the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency in mid-March as a result of the COVID 19 virus outbreak, students were given an extended March break.
Following the break, schools remained closed and the province set forward guidelines for the Learn at Home education program.
The Sydenham Current caught up with a few local students, who shared their thoughts and experiences about the new online format.
Calleigh Constant, a 14 year-old Grade 9 student at WDSS, told the Sydenham Current she receives between one and four hours of school work per class each week.
“I’ve had only one or two live classes,” Constant said.
“I’ve also had a couple of tests so far. I do find that the tests are more of a struggle with the online schooling because I feel that I’m not processing as much information as I would while in class.”
Constant added: “Overall, I do find that the online classes are a bit more difficult to understand what you are learning. Personally, I feel that it is a lot easier to learn when someone is showing you exactly what to do, instead of having to figure it out on your own.”
Kobee Soney, a 14-year-old Grade 8 student at Bkejwanong Kinomaagewganig on Walpole Island, said throughout the learning at home setup, she has enjoyed the freedom of being able to work whenever she wants to, along with not having to wake up early every weekday morning.
“Some of the negatives of learning at home though, are not being able to do hands-on learning or interact with teachers and classmates,” she said.
“If we have questions or trouble understanding the material, we cannot get immediate help. It’s also difficult for the students that don’t have resources such as wifi or electronics to work with.”
Soney added: “My school is using Google Classroom for our online learning and we have to do a minimum of 10 hours of schooling each week. We are still receiving work in all of the same subjects, such as math, science, health and others.”
Bella Granger, a 13-year-old Grade 8 student at WDSS, said some of the benefits of learning at home, is she can sleep in and have more time to do projects and assignments, instead of having to finish them in one to two days. Instead, she can do projects and assignments at her own pace, whenever she chooses to.
“Some of the challenges are that you cannot get immediate help from teachers like you would at school… unless it’s during office hours,” she said.
“It is also harder to do work, because we can’t use the textbooks or do experiments. Some people don’t have proper materials to be able to do the work, either.”
Granger said for her schooling, she has a schedule of subjects for each day and they have about a week or more to complete them.
She said she normally gets one or two assignments a day.
“WDSS uses Google Classroom to send out assignments to the students, and it is very effective because it notifies the students when their teachers post an assignment,” Granger added.
“The teachers can still talk to us and help us with our work, and we can still communicate with our classmates. On Google Classroom, you can send pictures of your work so the teachers can still see it if you prefer to write on paper, as well.”
Ellie Coutinho, a 15-year-old Grade 10 student at Ursuline College said she uses Google classroom for all of her work and assignments from teachers.
“Teachers also send videos explaining the assignments and lessons,” Coutinho said.
“Many of my teachers send work everyday, or a couple of times per week, depending on what class it is. They never send too much, so I have time to keep up with all of the work.”
Coutinho said some of the negatives are some of the material is harder to understand when you are not able to ask questions all of the time.
“Additionally, many students are unmotivated to do their work because it is not really affecting our grades,” she added.
Provincial officials say to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontario public schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020.
Private schools will also remain closed until May 19, 2020, according to an emergency order made under the Declaration of Emergency.
As these dates come closer, this decision will be re-evaluated based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The closure may be extended if necessary to protect the health and safety of students, families and staff, Provincial officials added.