online education

Enthusiasm for the digital faculty in Quebec

Quebec’s largest virtual school, welcoming students from 29 school service centers, has the wind in its sails. Such is the demand for online education that there are calls for parents to be free to educate their children in person or remotely, regardless of their health condition.

Currently, only children with a medical condition that makes them vulnerable to COVID-19 (or who have a vulnerable parent) can take their classes remotely. A medical certificate is required for this. But after what The duty learned, there is increasing pressure on parents to choose online education, even for perfectly healthy children.

The rise of the Omicron variant is sparking interest in distance learning, but the demand was already there before this new spike in COVID-19 cases. A virtual school created by the Center de services scolaire des Hautes-Rivières (CSSDHR) in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu thus arouses the enthusiasm of parents. This online school brings together more than 250 elementary and high school students from all regions of Quebec.

Dozens of these children have not set foot in school since the pandemic began in March 2020. These students have fully adapted to their new lives remotely, according to testimonies collected by The duty. “It’s working very well. Over the past year we’ve seen continued success and even a slight increase in results for our students at the virtual school,” says André-Paul Bouchard, Rector of the École Saint-Jacques, whose students from the Virtual School service Learning to benefit from the CSSDHR.

Like all service points, the CSSDHR also offers distance learning for children with a medical certificate. Due to the limited number of students, it was necessary to group children of different levels with the same teacher. It wasn’t ideal. In order to form complete groups at each level of primary and secondary education, the CSSDHR had the idea of ​​offering their virtual services to all service centers; 28 of them from all regions of Quebec answered the call and send students to this online school.

It is a respected “school” with fifteen teachers (six in primary school, nine in secondary school), special education and psychoeducation services, a secretary and other staff. Students follow the same educational program as those studying face-to-face. You will also be rated. You have to keep a schedule.

The virtual school is so successful that the CSSDHR proposes to offer it to all parents who want it, even if their children are in good health. “We are challenged by several parents who want this solution. We believe it would meet the needs of many children,” says André-Paul Bouchard.

health first

Sophie Roy is one of those parents who are excited about distance learning. Her two youngest children, who are asthmatics, have been attending CSSDHR virtual school since the pandemic began. You haven’t set foot in a “real” school since March 2020.

“We believe we made the right decisions. Health is priceless for us,” says the mother of four.

The pandemic has changed the everyday life of this family from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. Sophie Roy and her husband ran a home childcare service. When the pandemic broke out, five young children in her care developed high fevers. In view of the asthma that three children in the family and the father suffered from, the couple decided to close the daycare center.

Dad found a new job. The mother stays at home to monitor the virtual lessons of her two elementary school-age boys. “You have to be there as a parent. We cannot leave them alone at this age, they need care,” says Sophie Roy.

The two boys adjusted easily to their new life. The youngest, Vincent (aged 4)e year), still looking forward to playing “in person” with his friends. As with Hermann (in 6e year), his virtual friends are enough for him for the time being. He plays network video games. He also started his YouTube channel.

“It’s really cool, the virtual school. I have as many friends as I did at school, and I have more time to game,” says Herman.

As a bonus, there is no doubt about the quality of the air in the house, Sophie Roy points out. And the family is escaping classroom closures impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks.

An exciting project

Valleyfield’s Professor Isabelle Forget confirms that students are adapting “enormously” to distance learning. She has never regretted her decision to attend the virtual school, which was strongly recommended to her by her doctor for health reasons.

“It would never have occurred to me to find myself in virtual teaching. When we started last year, I didn’t know about it. But it’s so motivating that I’ll keep going for as long as I can,” she says.

She experiences “little miracles” every day: students in trouble who end up succeeding. Formerly anxious children who feel comfortable in front of their screens. Parents are committed to their children’s success. She has time to devote herself to each of her 23 students individually. One of the challenges is to limit the working hours: in the evenings he randomly answers the students’ questions.

“We have a strong sense of togetherness. I have the impression that we are building something important. If my adult children were in elementary or secondary school today, I would be the first to send them to virtual school,” says Isabelle Forget.

The interactions, direct connection with their teachers and all staff, as well as their friends, play an essential role in their development and success. The school is also an important social safety net.

A necessary presence

Education minister Jean-François Roberge says he is sensitive to parents’ arguments but of course sticks to compulsory education, except of course for times like early January when public health recommends distance learning.

The Paediatrics and Public Health Association believes that “the dangers of not going to school are inherent [sont] more important for children than those linked to COVID-19,” argues Florent Tanlet, the Minister’s spokesman.

“The interactions, the direct connection with their teachers and all the staff, as well as their friends play an integral part in their development and success. School is also an important social safety net,” he adds.

Steve Bissonnette, a professor at TELUQ’s Department of Education, believes the minister is making the right decision by requiring students to attend classes for as long as public health permits. He warns that virtual teaching is a “last resort” that should only be implemented in the event of a crisis.

Scientific studies prove beyond a doubt that children around the world have been suffering from distance learning since the beginning of the pandemic. More importantly, he says the virtual schools that have been running in the United States for the past twenty years are a “disaster.”

“It’s been 20 years since the United States tried virtual school and it’s been 20 years since it didn’t work,” says Steve Bissonnette. The completion rate drops by 10% in virtual mode. Students fall behind in learning by five months per year. The isolation causes them to lose social skills and can lead to mental health problems.

“The longer the school is closed, the greater the damage,” he said. Virtual school may be good for some, but science still concludes that it’s negative in every way. »

To see in the video

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button