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Parents not pleased with UCDSB livestreaming plan, student not pleased with ESCRH practices

A plan by the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) to livestream classroom activities to students using remote learning at home has led to concerns over privacy and well-being of children.

“What if my child raised their hand to answer the question and the answer is wrong, someone at home watching the live stream “snaps it” or records it and posts on social media?  commented Vankleek Hill area parent Sarah Bigelow.

She said that the livestreaming could be a challenge for children learning at home as well due to other noise in the classroom.

Another UCDSB parent and employee expressed their dissatisfaction with the livestreaming plan.

“With all of the concern’s parents, staff, and students are already facing in regard to COVID-19, this latest development is one more stress added to an already full plate,” they said.

In an open letter to UCDSB parents on August 31, McAllister defended the UCDSB’s livestreaming plan and said that it was not going to be like reality television, but similar to the Microsoft Teams platform many organizations have been using for electronic meetings in recent months.  McAllister noted that the plan also follows professional advice from the Ontario College of Teachers for electronic communication.

He says that a recent letter sent to some parents by one of the unions representing UCDSB staff of containing “misleading and inaccurate information” about the board’s video instruction plans.  McAllister also criticized the union for diminishing the board’s efforts to ensure health and safety of students and staff.

In order to keep parents informed and to give them the opportunity to ask questions, Pleasant Corners Public School Council Chair Drummond Fraser encouraged parents to follow updates related to the school and the UCDSB at http://pleasantcorners.ucdsb.on.ca or at the school council’s website, http://pcpscouncil.org, which also includes information on how to contact Principal Jana Kilger and Vice Principal Karen Nadeau.

Elian Renaud, a Grade 12 student at École secondaire catholique régionale de Hawkesbury (ESCRH) is not satisfied with how the school has structured its schedule to minimize the risk of COVID-19.  Classes resumed there on September 3.

He said that the school day is currently divided into two classes that each have two periods.  For his mathematics class, the math teacher teaches for the first period, leaves, and then a teacher who is not specialized in mathematics supervises for the second period.  Renaud said the same practice is being used for his automotive mechanics class.

“This leaves us to try and teach ourselves and leaves us with no one to really help us out,” he said.

Students cannot ask each other for help because they are not allowed to interact in the classroom.

Renaud was also critical of ESCRH’s other COVID-19 related rules.  Students are not allowed to be in the halls or gymnasium during lunch breaks and must wear masks the entire time they are in the building.  To avoid that, students are going outside and as Renaud explained “everybody ends up in a huge maskless crowd in front of the main door.”

He said that many students are already discouraged and want to switch to online learning.

James Morgan

James Morgan is a freelance contributor. He has worked for several print and broadcast media outlets. James loves the history, natural beauty, and people of eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

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