As students and parents adjust to full-time virtual learning, some teachers are working through additional challenges, including trying to supervise their own children and teach a class at the same time.

“We are responsible for the children that we are on screen with, while our own three children are unsupervised to some degree,” said teacher Neil Cooney.

Cooney teaches the 6th grade, while his wife Lena teaches special education. Their three kids, ages 10, eight and four, also take their own individual virtual classes all under the same roof.

 

“It’s nerve-racking. It’s a lot of stress on everybody,” said Lena.

The couple admits juggling everything at once isn't easy and often leads to interruptions.

“Shush, you have to go upstairs. We’re in the middle of a meeting,” said Lena to one of her children during the interview with CTV News.

Teachers have limited choice under lockdown with few childcare options.

The union representing local Catholic teachers calls the pivot to virtual learning in the New Year without help insulting, saying it is setting teachers up for failure.

“It’s a horrible situation. It’s an equity issue that goes beyond anything that I’ve seen,” said Patrick Etmanski. President, OECTA Waterloo.

The province says it has committed to providing free emergency childcare solutions for remote schooling this week, but it doesn’t apply to teachers.

In a statement to CTV News, a ministry spokesperson said, “the focus of this time-limited program is on front line workers saving lives in the second wave.”

“Teachers are front line workers in this case, absolutely they are, and they should have the same privileges that other front line workers have at this point,” said Etmanski.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario says teachers will continue to do their best, but the current model doesn't work for everyone.

“Some teachers have decided to take an unpaid leave for the week due to having multiple young children at home and feeling that they cannot fulfill what is being asked of educators as a result,” said Greg Weiler, President of ETFO-WR.

The worry now is that virtual learning is extended past the end of the week.

“Potentially I would have to take my children out of the curriculum,” said Lena.

The current plan will have elementary students take part in remote learning until Jan. 11, while secondary students are set to return on Jan. 25.