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Ontario Families Scramble as Omicron Forces 2-Week School Closures

It isn’t the New Year that Ontario families were hoping for. Many parents had hoped that the COVID-19 Pandemic would be under control by now. And that their children would be able to have an uninterrupted education once again. However, now Ontario Families scramble as Omicron forces 2-week school closures.

Many parents remained cautiously optimistic when the holiday break began. Their genuine hope was that history wouldn’t repeat itself, and that their children would be able to attend in-person learning after the holiday break, unlike last year. There fears became reality when the province announced mandatory school closures once again.

Ontario schools return to remote learning.

Beginning Wednesday, January 7, 2022, all private and publicly funded schools had to move to remote learning until Monday, January 17, 2022 at the earliest. The Ontario government announced on Monday, January 3, 2022 that the school closures were due to public health trends and operational considerations.

Because of very little notice given before the sudden announcement of the closures. Ontario families scramble once again, to find care for their children. While school buildings are able to remain open for child-care, including emergency child care. And in-person learning for students with special educational needs, or staff that can’t provide quality educational instruction from home. The free emergency childcare is only available for children of parents who are eligible frontline workers.

How Ontario Families are Responding.

Most Ontario parents are absolutely devastated by this last minute decision to close schools. Many parents need to go to work. But if they are not eligible frontline workers, they have no access to emergency childcare. Therefore the mandatory school closures cause horrendous amounts of stress for the parents who now have to scramble to make arrangements.

Optimism is at an all-time low as Ontario parents scramble.

Despite the attempts of parents to remain optimistic when the holiday break began. Optimism is at an all-time low. While the Ontario government announced that schools could potentially return to in-person learning on January 17. Many parents find that hard to believe. Ontario parents are demanding answers, like “How will these two weeks make anything better?” Most of these questions appear to be going unanswered. When the Ontario government does choose to provide answers, they are usually extremely unclear.

Ontario parents deserve more than this.

Is the pandemic unpredictable? Yes! However, the Ontario government was well aware of the Omicron variant long before their sudden announcement about school closures. In fact, Wednesday, December 29, 2021 the Ford government announced that schools would only be delayed until Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Then just a few days later they announced a two-week school closure. Causing Ontario parents to scramble, once again.

The Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, was asked at a press conference if he could guarantee that schools will be back to in-person learning in two weeks. He did not provide an answer to these questions, causing parents to speculate even more.

Parents in Ontario deserve more.

Ontario families scramble as they prepare for the worst.

Many parents in Ontario are now preparing for the worst case scenario: School closures to last longer than two weeks. With no definite end in sight, parents continue to scramble to find care for their children so that they can continue working. Rather than provide solutions for Ontario parents, Premier Doug Ford showed great support for his Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce. As he has recently come under fire from parents, for not acting quick enough during the long-lasting pandemic.

“I want to give a shout out to Minister Lecce. I always say he’s the best Minister of Education in the country,” Ford said. “He’s done everything in his power to make sure that schools can move forward throughout this whole pandemic.”

Premier Doug Ford

Instead of helping parents during his ominous announcement of school closures, Ford chose to use precious time to praise Lecce. This caused Ontario parents to feel even more infuriated, and rightfully so.

Many parents are in an impossible situation.

As a parent, you naturally want the best for your children. Remote learning places an enormous amount of stress on the parent. Now they must either figure out childcare, or have them sit on a screen while they attempt to work from home at the same time. Many parents feel like they’re failing their children, or their work in some way. Because most are finding it difficult to be there to support their children while they also try to maintain work.

Obviously parents understand that there is a pandemic. And they know that keeping their children safe is priority. However, the mental strain that is placed upon parents because of remote learning is nearly unbearable for some.

Solutions for parents.

As much as we’d love to, we cannot just make the pandemic disappear. But there are some small things that you can do to get through the latest round of School closures.

1. Silence the parental guilt.

We as parents seem to always revert back to a place of parental guilt when things aren’t going smoothly. Remote learning is a struggle for most, and if your child is struggling, just remember that this is not your fault. You should never blame yourself for things that are beyond your control.

2. Offer alternative learning methods.

We totally sympathize with your desire to keep your child on track with their education. If you are finding that remote learning is actually having the opposite affect on their education. Then consider adding in alternative forms of education.

3. Reach out to healthy family and friends for help.

You can’t do this on your own. And while we often like to make ourselves believe that parenting is an independent gig, it’s not. You need help, especially right now. Reach out to people that you can trust, and explain that you need help.

4. Know that you are good enough.

You are capable, and you can do this. It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. You’re doing the very best with what you have. Remind yourself of that.

5. Take a break from remote learning.

If you are finding that remote learning is actually causing more stress for your child than good. Talk with your child’s teacher/school about alternatives that you can do in the meantime. Perhaps you can work on some unit studies at home. Or partake in interest-based learning with your child while they get omicron under control.

6. Take it one day at a time.

We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, next week or next month. Try to avoid overwhelming yourself with the ‘what ifs’, as this isn’t of any good for you or your child. Focus on what is happening today. That doesn’t mean you should just stop planning for the days ahead, and childcare if need be. It means that you will plan, but not worry about the outcome.

7. Remember this isn’t forever.

While the pandemic does seem to be going on forever, it’s really important to remind yourself that this won’t last forever. One day this will all be behind us.

We are here to help.

While Ontario families scramble as Omicron forces 2-week school closures, we want to remind you that we are here to help. If you need help finding alternative learning solutions for your child, or just need someone to talk to about your child’s education. We are here to help you.

Do you need help with how to make learning a priority despite school closures? We can help! Check out this blog for some excellent ideas!

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