Commentary – More lessons about COVID-19

Students learn best when in classroom

Richard Froese

Students are back in classes as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Although not all students are at school as some families chose to keep their children at home and learn online connected to their teachers.

As full-time classes are back in session for the first time since schools closed March 16, it appears the re-entry has generally caused few problems that were quickly resolved.

I casually talked to a few people in key positions in High Prairie schools and heard plenty of positive remarks.

Students were happy to be back in school with their friends and teachers.

For some students and teachers, it was the first time they have been together in-person in almost six months.

What a reunion! School staff said students went home happy and smiling!

It may not have been easy to see the excitement and joy on their faces, covered by their masks required for students from Grades 4-12.

School divisions and the provincial government are doing everything to prevent the risk and spread of COVID-19 in schools and communities. Protocols are in place and cleaning has been increased to keep schools and buses safe and sanitized to protect everyone inside.

Students have learned how to protect themselves and their family and friends during the pandemic. Within a few days of getting back to school, students quickly understand and respect the restrictions and routines.

Despite the circumstances, students from kindergarten to Grade 12 want and need to be back in school to get a valuable education.

Schools and students want to get on with the best way that students learn, not online.

Findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics are stated in a column in the Edmonton Journal by David Staples on July 10.

“Children learn best when they are in school,” the academy states.

“Evidence so far suggests that children and adolescents are less likely to have symptoms or severe disease from infection.

“They also appear less likely to become infected or spread the virus.

“Schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents.

“In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning.”

The column also includes findings from the Canadian Paediatric Society [CPS] that many students lose out with online learning.

“Children and youth with special needs, from low-income households, or for whom the home is not a safe place, are facing the most significant consequences of school closures,” the CPS states.

Consider the results of a survey conducted by Peace River School Division in June as 662 students and 1,013 parents completed the online questionnaire. Almost one half [49.2 per cent] of parents stated they are not at all comfortable with online learning in the future. On returning to classes in person, 57.4 per cent of students agree they would be very comfortable, 34 per cent are somewhat comfortable and 8.6 per cent are not at all comfortable.

Would the results be similar for other school divisions?

Let’s trust that students will be able to get the proper and quality education they deserve.

Full-scale online learning will only further hamper their growth.

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