Advertisement

Coronavirus: Teen starts petition urging Quebec to act faster to release distance-learning plan

Online learning plan: Montreal-area teen urges education ministry to act faster
WATCH: The Education Ministry has given school boards until Sept.15 to come up with an alternate plan if a second wave of COVID-19 or outbreaks force school closures. But as Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, for one high schooler, that's not soon enough. The teen says the government needs to have the tools in place now, so teachers and students can prepare.

Back to school isn’t for another month and a bit, but some students and their parents are already feeling a little anxious about the year ahead.

“It’s so uncertain and there is no clear-cut plan,” said 16-year-old Serena Totera, who’s heading into her final year of high school.

Earlier this week, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said that if schools are forced to close again due to a second wave of coronavirus or outbreaks at specific schools, it will be mandatory to continue classes online.

However, details of the government’s online learning plan, part of its emergency protocol, won’t be released until Sept. 15 — more than two weeks after most Quebec schools resume classes.

“That doesn’t make sense,” Totera said.

Read more: Quebec to make online teaching mandatory if coronavirus closes schools this fall

Story continues below advertisement

That’s why the Montreal-area teen has started an online petition asking the education ministry to release details of the plan before September.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Totera argues teachers need time to learn new software and methods for online teaching.

“If teachers aren’t properly prepared and school goes online, it could be very disorganized and lessons could be not planned properly or just not up to par,” she said.

Totera’s brother, Adamo, agrees.

“If we do online school, a lot of teachers don’t know how to navigate themselves around everywhere online,” he said.

Both siblings had non-mandatory online classes for a few weeks in the spring when schools were closed.

Read more: Coronavirus: Quebec teacher calls for ‘realistic’ rethinking of school bubbles

“It was wishy-washy ’cause like sometimes, at a random time you’d have a class here, and then at another time you’d have a random class there,” Adamo explained.

Then there were the technical issues.

“On Zooms, there are lot of glitches and stuff like that so it’as a bit harder,” said Olivia Klor, a family friend and elementary school student.

Story continues below advertisement

“Sometimes the sound would go off and you wouldn’t be able to hear the teacher or the video pauses.”

Klor also recounted times when students got locked out of Zoom meetings and described it as “chaotic.”

There’s a concern that those kinds of issues could happen again if teachers aren’t given the time to prepare to use the platforms,  or even know which ones they will need.

“I’m concerned that not all schools boards have made that decision and that platforms are a little all over the place,” said Caroline Phaneuf, of the English Montreal School Board parent’s committee.

The lack of a clear plan, according to Totera, is creating more stress for everyone involved.

“I think the government needs to make a clear-cut plan, not only for students, but also teachers and parents — to ease their minds.”