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Sunday, January 16

‘All students are exhausted’: Ontario boards want Stephen Lecce to finish modified semesters in high schools

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Ontario school boards are calling on the province to return to a normal semester for high school students in the new year, saying the current “modified” model is not working for teens or teachers.

“If it’s an absolute necessity, it works, but it’s not optimal and it’s not good for kids and their learning; it’s not good for staff and people are really ready to get back to normal,” said Cathy Abraham, President of Ontario Public Association of School Boards.

The association has written to Education Minister Stephen Lecce asking him that, if deemed safe, schools return to the normal four courses a day at the end of the semester. Most boards currently have a modified schedule in which teens take two courses every day for one week and then switch to another two the following week.

The second semester of high school usually begins in late January or early February.

The modified semester and octometer one year at a time were deemed safer for high school students given the need to keep them in cohorts to limit their contacts during the pandemic.

“If there is no need, we would really like our education to go back to what would be considered normal,” Abraham said, noting the downward trend in COVID cases. “It is a better form of delivery for students and staff.”

She compared the two-course-per-week model to “learning to play something on the piano, and then you can’t play the piano for a week.”

Lecce has told reporters that he wants students to return to normal this year, when they are safe, and in a statement to the Star, his spokesperson said that “our government adopted the best medical advice that keeps schools safe and open. We will continue to follow the advice of the Medical Director of Health with the goal of keeping students and staff safe and cautiously returning to a more normal learning experience for students. ”

Jazzlyn Abbott, director of the Ontario Student Trustees Association, is a senior who has a modified semester schedule and said it’s a topic she hears a lot about.

“No one is experiencing consistency,” said Abbott, a Renfrew County board student in eastern Ontario. “It affects the performance of the students and also the mental health of the students, and also the performance of the teachers and the mental health of the teachers. It is a complicated system that impacts everyone ”.

He said that while there was controversy surrounding the quarterly model, used by many boards, including the Toronto District School Board, some loved it and some hated it, “for the modified semester, the general consensus is that it doesn’t work for students . “

Abraham, in his letter to Lecce, said that given the planning involved for the schools, “our member boards would appreciate a quick decision on this matter.”

“We are really encouraging the minister to have those discussions” with the boards and the medical health officer “and make that decision to help our children and staff achieve normal hours,” he said in an interview.

In the Peel region, a public board held a meeting last week where students shared their concerns.

Sumati Missar, an eleventh-grader, said she’s not the only one feeling “drained and definitely drained.”

“By the end of our first class, all the students are exhausted. You walk down the hall and see people trying to nap before their next class. “

And, he added, “changing every week has been very, very difficult. A week passes and we are so immersed in our two courses, that suddenly they take you out and you have to remember what you did a week (before), ”he said.

Last week Missar had math and chemistry, while this week she has biology and psychology. Because he needs to catch up by Monday, when the course change occurs, he spends much of the weekend doing revision work.

“I go to school and I come home and I am absolutely exhausted,” she added. “You really have to push yourself to do your homework.”

Chemistry teacher Diana Wang-Martin noted that classes typically last 75 minutes, but the two-and-a-half hour classes mean her students are getting “a very exhausted teacher who can barely chain sentences at the end of the day.”

This is especially challenging because one of his afternoon courses is ninth grade science, where there are large gaps in skills and knowledge due to his education being severely disrupted during the pandemic.

“Getting out of this model is so urgent,” said Peel’s teacher. “The more we push it and the more we hold these kids and teachers to this schedule, the more exhausted they will all be.”

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Reference-www.thestar.com

1 Comment

  • Dev

    This schedule really sucks and drains a lot of energy, disrupts learning. The Board directors think that this is a better learning style than quad semesters but its way worse and its not only me who thinks this all my classmates and teacher also hate this learning style. They think it is like normal semesters but the classes are so long no one pays attention most of the kids are on their phones and during class break the teacher tells everyone to come at a certain time from break but most of the students come like 20 minutes after the expected time . The ministry of education should consider returning to quad semesters after the winter break.

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