The problem is bigger than any board can handle

Last night the Halton Catholic School Board held a special meeting to discuss options on how to return to school safely in the fall. I have a student in the board and currently sit on the Catholic Parent Involvement Committee. So this meeting was important to me. It was a long meeting running four hours approximately. I’ll link to it below here if you want to watch it yourself. Be warned though it’s just shy of four hours:

The general consensus of the meeting seems to point towards some manner of hybrid learning. Going online to gauge public reaction to this its clear, parents are not happy. Too many questions are still in the air. I am one of them. My concerns were not addressed or alleviated.

Listening to the more than fully capable superintendents and director discuss their proposal one thing became clear. This is a problem that is indeed bigger than any one school board can handle. Arguing for which model of in class, hybrid or distance learning best fits parents desires is a misnomer. The solution to the crisis of how to teach children with the threat of COVID-19 looming is bigger than any one board can create.

No matter which model you choose, it is abundantly clear major monies will need to be invested back into education. Whether that’s for infrastructure or personnel, the paltry 0.07 cents per student is not going to cut it. The displeasure many parents were expressing the next day was due to the gaps in the plan. The obvious areas where students were going to fall through due to the unevenness of the plan. Again, I can’t blame the HCDSB staff for this. They have a finite amount of money to implement. Clearly it will not be enough. They were damned to their criticism before they even began.

Passing the buck to the boards to come up with the plan is failing families and students. School boards are static when it comes to their operating budgets. They get what they get from the province and a small amount from municipalities. They do not have taxation powers to directly demand more monies from the public. Therefore they are limited in what they can spend. Last night showed that they do not have what is necessary to spend to address the challenges of COVID-19.

Looking around the province, we’re going to have a Swiss cheese model of education. Some boards will be in class, some will be hybrid, some still don’t know what to do. This has to end. We need one plan from the Ministry of Education, backed up with serious financial capital behind it. Maybe we’ll get it next week in Ford and Lecce’s big announcement. I don’t know. What I do know is the current plan isn’t working.

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