High School Teachers Have 'Mixed Emotions' About In-Person Learning

A stock photo of a classroom.

Mixed emotions for secondary school teachers as they get set to head back to in-person learning on Monday.

OSSTF District 9 President Erin Roy says staff are happy to get back in the classroom, but are still worried about COVID-19 as not much has changed in the way of safety protocols since students were told to stay home in mid-December.

Roy says the so called "enhanced protocols" don't add up to much.

"Of course there is some trepidation because of COVID and some of the variants that are out there. The minister did a lot of talking about the enhanced screening of enhanced protocols. In my view, there really isn't any other than instead of doing a self-assessment every day you actually have to just check a box to say that you did it which is no different than what we were doing before," she says.

Roy says keeping children safe is now on the shoulders of families and the community.

"We're going back into the schools with the same protocols that we had before. So the hope is that our community numbers stay low. The data is very clear, community spread goes up, the spread goes up in the schools and that's just the way it is. There is a risk," she says.

Roy believes keeping students apart before and after school is nearly impossible.

"The discouraging students from congregating, I don't know if you've ever been in a high school when school is over and I'm not sure how you would ever enforce that after school other than just saying you shouldn't be congregating and things like that. I think that's going to be hard to enforce," she adds.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced schools in 13 public health units, including Windsor-Essex, would re-open on Monday, February 8. 

The remaining hot spots including Toronto, Peel and York will not return until February 16.