Coronavirus: Courtice parent shares unique approach to remote learning, but it’s not without sacrifice

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: One Ontario parent’s unique approach to remote learning' Coronavirus: One Ontario parent’s unique approach to remote learning
WATCH ABOVE: An Ontario mother has created her own hybrid of remote learning for her two children but this decision comes with family sacrifices. Melanie Zettler visits the family in Courtice to see what's on the curriculum. – Sep 4, 2020

In an email sent to parents of the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board Friday, the launch of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Virtual School was announced.

“With more than 2,200 students enrolled in remote learning, the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Virtual School will be the board’s largest school, welcoming 1,440 elementary students and 770 secondary students,” the email stated.

Andrea Traynor, a mother of two children from Courtice, Ont., and founder of, said she is planning to reduce her workload while supervising her children four days a week as they engage in their school board’s virtual learning program. But that doesn’t mean the kids will be on devices most of the day.

Read more: Peterborough and area Catholic schools rolling out staggered start for students’ return to classes

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Traynor’s hybrid remote learning plans will incorporate her own educational field trips and excursions to conservation areas every week. Her children, aged nine and 12, will also attend Forrest School — a type of private education, only outdoors — a day a week through to December.

“I think it’s really important to acknowledge that this choice we get to make is a privilege. I get that parents who are essential workers or don’t have the flexibility to work from home or simply can’t make ends meet without working full-time have fewer choices than we do,” she said.

“I love working and get deep satisfaction from it, so in addition to reducing my workload to one day a week to try and make this remote-hybrid learning work for our kids, we’re giving up a lot of the frills we used to enjoy that my job paid for.”

The content creator and blogger cited a few main reasons why she and her husband have decided to keep their kids home.

Elderly grandparents are part of the Traynor family’s bubble and the family wants to continue to have close, physical contact with grandparents without worrying about possible COVID-19 exposures.

In addition, if there is a second wave, Traynor said she believes her choice will mean greater learning consistency.

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READ MORE: 70% of parents who responded to TDSB elementary registration choose in-person option

The final reason has to do with trust.

“We’ve worked so, so hard for the last six months to adhere to all of the state of emergency orders that sending them back into an environment where maybe there are kids whose parents haven’t been doing that seemed like, well, we’re just throwing it all into the wind now,” said Traynor.

The Traynor family dining room has been transformed to include work stations: tables from Kijiji, devices, calculators and baskets holding workbooks and journals. “Recess” will include jumps on the backyard trampoline and the day will also be broken up with baking and bike rides.

“We’re just going to just try and make it an adventure,” she said.

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