Distance learning has underscored the critical role our teachers and education workers play when it comes to supporting our students. Be it developing flexible academic programs to ensure our kids can continue their education from home, or connecting with students via phone, email and new technologies, Ontario’s educators have stepped up to ensure our students have access to the academic, emotional, and mental health supports they need during this unprecedented situation.
But some emergency remote learning measures have also amplified the challenges some students face: a lack of access to technology and broadband connectivity make synchronous learning strategies near impossible to implement without compromising access for some students. And emergency remote learning has highlighted the challenges of coordinating the range of one-on-one supports needed for students with special needs or individualized learning plans - an issue educators flagged for government early on in the pandemic.
In short: we know a one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn’t work in the classroom and we can’t expect it to work here. That’s why it’s so critical that our educators play a central role in developing crisis solutions and why they have repeatedly called on government to consult with them on the implementation of emergency distance learning. It’s our educators who best understand the individual needs of our students and whose frontline experience can help identify and develop equitable, flexible solutions to the problems.