Editorial: Parents weighing school options

Back to class in September has never looked anything like this

The only thing certain about back to school is the uncertainty.

Many parents – let’s even say an abundance of parents – are not happy with particular plans laid out by the Ministry of Education and specifics from the Cowichan Valley School District in dealing with COVID-19.

There are many bones of contention parents have already identified that might result in them keeping their kids at home until there’s a satisfactory resolution.

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With gatherings of no more than 50 people allowed in public, parents are wondering why cohorts can be up to 60 with no social distancing required. And there doesn’t seem to be a hybrid model for those who are immunocompromised.

Another parent pointed out those who can keep their kids at home to make sure there are less bodies in the classroom for others are not given an option. Teachers who do not want to attend because of the virus are also not given an option.

Other provinces are offering a virtual program or a choice of a hybrid model with less days in class and smaller cohorts, but that’s not the case here. At least not yet. That’s one change which may happen before students go back into class next Thursday, Sept. 10 or soon afterward.

Condensing all the information that’s been thrown around the last few weeks, it all comes down to a couple of factors.

The main stumbling block is the need for smaller class sizes and cohorts. The fewer, the better in this case to maintain social distancing and protect everyone.

The wearing of masks in certain situations, but not all doesn’t seem to be sitting well, either. They’re required for secondary students and staff when social distancing isn’t possible, but not for elementary students.

Everyone is also looking for an answer on the balance between in-class and virtual learning which also factors into the sizes of the cohorts. Attending school is important for the social development of students, but under these difficult times it needs to be weighed against safety.

It’s surely not easy trying to formulate a plan to satisfy everyone. At this stage of pandemic protocol confusion and panic approaching six months after the initial shock, exercising on the side of caution first is paramount before restrictions can ease back to normal as conditions allow.

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