Students struggle with isolation, lack of structure during remote learning: parents, counsellors

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Winnipeg and Brandon K-12 students will move back into remote learning Wednesday. While many students have been here before, it can still be a stressful and isolating time. Marney Blunt reports. – May 10, 2021

Students in Winnipeg and Brandon from kindergarten to Grade 12 are moving back to remote learning on Wednesday in an effort by the province to break the transmission line of Manitoba’s rapidly escalating COVID-19 numbers.

It’s something Winnipeg parent Pam Rubachuk isn’t looking forward to.

“I’m not happy,” Rubachuk said. “First and foremost, it’s an extremely stressful thought going to remote learning knowing my son doesn’t have as much stimulation here at home to continue learning.”

Rubachuk’s 14-year-old son goes to school at Glenlawn Collegiate. She’s concerned about the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation that comes with it.

“He’s a very introvert child as is. So I was hoping high school would be some better experiences with people. I can see he’s stifled for conversation,” she said.

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Read more: Manitoba to move all K-12 schools in Winnipeg, Brandon to remote learning Wednesday

“It’s a different world. I really didn’t want to raise a child where he was going to have to go through therapy to get through childhood.”

School counsellors say a combination of a lack of structure, isolation from friends and trouble focusing at home can be stressful for students, but they’ve been in this situation before.

“I think right now it’s more about ‘ugh, not again’ for lots of the kids. For the most part, they know what to expect. We’ve been here before, we’ve done it before,” said Tanis Ryznar, who works in student support services at Arthur A. Leach School.

“I think for most of them it’s trying to do a full day of school online. It’s hard. It’s a hard gig to try and sit there and pay attention when you might have your little brother or sister running around behind you at home.”

Read more: Parents, school divisions react to upcoming closure of Winnipeg, Brandon schools

Ryznar says if students are struggling, they need to reach out to the school for help.

“If we know that they’re experiencing difficulty we can bring them in,” she said. “If they’re having trouble accessing things online, we can make appointments.”

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West Kildonan Collegiate school counsellor Alice McGregor says it can be helpful if students and parents try to keep days structured, as if the student were going to class.

“Keep a little bit of a daily structure, a little bit of discipline to help get through an isolated rough time,” McGregor said.

“And try to connect with your friends online, no better way to use social media than to keep connected with people you care about, people that are close, and just try to stay in that positive mind frame.”

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