New Brunswick parents decry online learning model amid strike

Click to play video: 'Parents in New Brunswick say CUPE strike creating child care crisis' Parents in New Brunswick say CUPE strike creating child care crisis
WATCH: Parents in New Brunswick say the CUPE strike is creating a child care crisis. Schools have moved to online learning while support workers are on the picket lines. Some parents say that’s negatively affecting children, particularly those with disabilities. Nathalie Sturgeon reports – Nov 10, 2021

Parents in New Brunswick say the online learning model implemented after members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees walked off the job and the government locked them out isn’t working.

The online learning model was created out of necessity during the onset of the pandemic, but forced on parents and students as a result of the strike.

But many parents say it isn’t working and is causing a lot of turmoil.

Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Dominic Cardy apologized to parents on Wednesday.

“I’m sorry that compounding COVID, we’re having this strike as an additional burden, and I hope it can be resolved as quickly as possible,” he said.

Read more: Challenge to N.B. government back to work order for health workers in court Monday

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Haley Jones has three children and one of them has special needs. She said she struggled with homeschooling while trying to pursue an education of her own, so, reluctantly, she put them in school.

Now, they’re home again, but not by her choice. But she isn’t accepting the minister or the government’s apologies.

“He told us that online learning wasn’t an option when it was to keep our kids safe, but when it’s convenient for them it happens in a day,” she said of the move to online learning.

Jones isn’t alone.

Kyle Stoddard’s daughter just began Grade 1 and said while he is very lucky to be able support his child’s education, he wished the government had planned better.

Read more: N.B. Premier Blaine Higgs says ‘likely in for a long haul’ on public sector strike

He says he thinks the people who are most impacted are being forgotten in the politics and finances of it all.

“I really don’t feel like people are the thing that’s being focused on here, there is a lot of talk about money. There is a lot of talk about the bottom line and I know that’s probably not how these folks feel …But I know there are things that are getting missed,” he said.

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He says his child’s after school program stepped up to take his daughter during the day, but he knows many others are not that fortunate.

He said for many, it might even be a financial barrier.

Maxim Beauregard-Dionne has five children, one of them with special needs, and said she cannot focus for long periods — especially with screens. He said while they have her learning plan, it’s not as simple as jumping in with both feet.

He said his daughter needs her educational assistant. Beauregard-Dionne says his daughter also enjoys the social aspect of school which she now misses out on entirely.

“My daughter likes to go to school to see some people, so, for the first few days of the lockout she was waking up at 6:30 and saying, ‘Bus, bus,’ and we’re like, ‘No, not today,’ and I think that was more disappointing,” he said.

Read more: Liberal, Green leaders withdraw from COVID commitee as striking health-care workers forced back

He, too, says he’s not interested in an apology from the education minister, saying the government can’t apologize for a situation it created.

Jenna Morton, a parent of three in Salisbury, says her kids are managing well on the online learning program due to the support her kids teachers have given. But she said that isn’t the case everywhere.

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She said the government had plenty of time to figure out a way to make this work and to prepare teachers and students, but failed.

That, she fears, will have a real impact on children’s mental health.

Many other parents reached out to Global News on the topic through social media and common threads emerged, including that the model wasn’t working, that it disproportionately impacts children with disabilities, and the unknown fallout of this system that many students aren’t participating in for various reasons.


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