Coronavirus: Durham students still waiting to resume in-person learning

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Durham students still waiting to resume in-person learning
WATCH: The province has cleared four additional public health units to return to in-class learning next week but Durham isn't one of them. – Jan 28, 2021

As the latest surge of the coronavirus pandemic eases, the province has cleared four additional public health units to return to in-class learning next week but Durham isn’t one of them.

Students across the province have been learning remotely since the beginning of the new year. Last week, seven regions in Southern Ontario were permitted to resume physical classes, but Durham was not among them.

The ongoing uncertainty is one of the reasons some parents decided to go with at-home schooling from the get-go.

Aydin Leamen, who is in Grade 7, has been doing virtual learning since the start of the school year.

“I’ve been learning a lot more in virtual than in a regular classroom, so I feel much better doing virtual,” said Leamen. The 12-year-old said he is online six hours a day. He starts the morning with French and language.

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“And after lunch I have either geography, science, or art but I also do math,” said Leamen.

“We chose to keep our kids with DDSB@Home. They know what the routine is, they know what the schedule is, they know what the expectations are,” said Melike Ceylan-Leamen, Aydin’s mom.

Ceylan-Leamen says she decided to go with virtual learning for her kids, in part, to prevent disruptions to their education.

“We thought it (school lockdown) would be late fall but turned out to be right after Christmas. We knew it was coming,” she said.

She also says she’s aware her family is fortunate to be able to have the kids at home.

“I feel sorry for families who have to go through it. When we talk to other parents who are going through ‘Do I send my kids? Do I take time off work? What do I do?’ — it’s not only the kids’ routine that’s completely tossed up, it’s the parents as well,” said Ceylan-Leamen.

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Families in Durham still don’t have a timeline for when schools in the region will reopen. The Ministry of Education said in a statement, “Our top priority is getting all students back to class. We know how important it is for their mental health and development.”

“While we await further recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we have followed scientific expert advice focused on keeping schools safe for students and staff by enhancing Canada’s strongest masking protocols to include grades 1-3, expanding access to targeted asymptomatic testing, stricter screening protocols, along with ventilation improvements.”

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Back-to-school best for kids’ mental health

As for the Durham District School Board, they have more than 72,000 students with about 75 per cent enrolled in-person learning.

Like parents, they’re waiting on the ministry to give them the green light and when they do, they say they will be ready to have kids return to class.

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Back to the Leamens, it took Aydin a month to get into the groove he’s in today. While there are challenges, Melike says virtual is working for them.

“I don’t need them to be having all the anxiety around when do I go back? Do I see my friends? Don’t I see my friends,” said Ceylan-Leamen.

The province has previously said schools in Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex wouldn’t reopen until at least February 10.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Ontario government releases highly anticipated back-to-school plan'
Coronavirus: Ontario government releases highly anticipated back-to-school plan

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