Parents, students, pushing school board for return to full-time instruction for high schools in the fall

A petition with over 1,900 signatures is calling for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board to move back to in class learning from 9 to 3 Monday to Friday. (Jackie Perez/CTV News Ottawa)

Ottawa's medical officer of health is not advocating for schools to close as COVID-19 cases rise, but Dr. Vera Etches is cautious of the rise in school-aged children testing positive.

Many parents bracing for a school closure soon.

"It’s either going to happen in April after Easter or after the April break, if we have one," said parent Daniel Devries. 

While there is an April break from April 12-16, rising numbers could lead to schools shutting down.

Some schools are already taking proactive measure, sending notes home telling parents to prepare for a possible pivot to at home learning.

"It’s the uncertainty of knowing whether there’s an April break or we’re going virtual," said Megan Falcon, also a parent. "A decision either way would be helpful."

In a letter to parents on Wednesday, the Ottawa Carleton District School Board said students and staff are "encouraged to regularly take home any personal items necessary to continue their learning from home."

Students are urged to bring home any items required for remote learning to ensure a "smooth transition if and when" a transition to remote learning is required and in-person learning is cancelled.

The news comes as parents of high school students from the Ottawa public school board push to return to a full curriculum come fall.

Some of those registered for in-person learning are frustrated with the current setup.

"It's a model that includes cohort; one class a week and a quadmester system for two months," said Vanessa House Milley.

Milley’s daughters attend high school in Nepean. The current curriculum has created a lot of stress.

One daughter started high school during the pandemic and said her stress levels and anxiety towards school has increased.

Milley’s other daughter, Olivia, echoes this feeling.

"I don't feel fully equipped because it's just too condensed," said the grade 11 student. "There’s nothing to reinforce that knowledge near the end of the quadmester; so once it’s done, it’s done and we move on."

A petition with nearly 1,900 signatures is calling on the board to move back to full-time instruction, which means in class learning from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Under the current system, parents like Sarah Young fears it will hinder their child’s learning.

"We cannot afford another year like this. Eight to 12 hours is woefully inadequate," said Young. "Our children are falling apart and they’re falling behind."

Meantime, CHEO Lindsay Samson is urging people to do everything they can to follow the restrictions.