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Kingston parents react to Ontario’s back to school plan

Click to play video: 'Kingston parents and grandparents react to school reopening' Kingston parents and grandparents react to school reopening
Some Kingston parents and grandparents react to the province's plan to re-open schools – Aug 4, 2021

Kingston City Park sees plenty of activity, and even more so on a sunny and humid day. However scenes like these will become less common as school gets closer. The provincial government says students can return to school for in-person learning — full days, five days a week.

A local parent who was at the park wants to see kids back in classes.

“I think the children should go back to school. It’s been a whole year of lost education, lost socialization — children need it, they need that to grow” says Johna Widmann.

Bill Halleran, a grandparent who was at the park says “they’re going back which is the main thing. There’s going to be a few hiccups of course — you just have to practise patience and kindness and all that other stuff — show the way for the little one.”

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Another mom that was at the park with her child says “I’m excited that the schools will be open and I’m excited for my son to start junior kindergarten.”

Brooke MacKinnon is not only a mom — she’s also an elementary school teacher. She’s glad  in-person learning is back on the docket.

“It’s much better than being online — that’s for sure. I think socially and academically — I mean as a teacher no matter how hard you try you just can’t get through the same amount of content on line” says MacKinnon.

MacKinnon says some teachers also agree with her, saying certain students are more at risk than others.

Read more: Ontario government releases guidance for return of in-person classes at province’s schools

“And I found and I know some other teachers did too — it’s those most at risk students who — those most vulnerable students who weren’t on line or who didn’t learn as well on line and it’s always so painful as a teacher when they’re even more disadvantaged so I think it will be really great to be back in the classroom on that level.” MacKinnon says.

“Children need structure in order to grow and they’re not getting that right now. Parents are struggling to educate them on their own — some parents have to work, they can’t get on line and help their children — they need to be in the classroom” says Wildmann.

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Read more: Post-Secondary institutions in Kingston join the growing list of schools in Ontario that say they will not make vaccines mandatory in the fall

The province announced that COVID vaccinations will not be mandatory for students or staff — it is also injecting millions into schools to improve ventilation. Local MPP of Kingston and the Islands, Ian Arthur says

“I think we have to get kids into school, I don’t think the question is so much about whether it makes sense to get kids back to school — it certainly does — the real question is how do we get them back into school safely and in a manner where they’re not going to be pulled back out of it at any point.”

Whether those efforts will be enough to avoid more school closures remains to be seen.

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