Open Letter to the Premier on Hybrid Learning

Hon. Doug Ford 
Queen’s Park, 
Legislative Building, 
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier Ford,

The past 14 months have been incredibly difficult for all Ontarians, and our students have paid a high price. Their learning has been disrupted as Ontario has struggled with uncontrolled COVID-19 infection rates, and families and education workers have been asked to pivot repeatedly. As we plan now for September it’s vital we prioritize students’ needs and properly fund public education. The hybrid learning model where a teacher is expected to teach students in class and online at the same time has not worked. A plan is needed now so that kids across the province won’t be forced into hybrid classes. Because of underfunding, several boards have already stated their intention to move forward in the next school year with a hybrid model. This means that, regardless of the choice a parent makes for their children, they will be in a hybrid class where a teacher will be responsible for teaching a classroom full of kids in person and virtual learners through a screen simultaneously.

Teachers’ attentions will constantly be divided because they’ll have no other choice. This takes away from instruction time for every student. In-person learners will be tied to their desks as their teachers will be unable to plan hands-on, interactive lessons, and classes will be limited from opportunities to move out of the classroom. Virtual learners will watch from home as their peers are able to gather together and learn from a teacher who can’t be solely focused on virtual engagement. This is not what’s best for any of our students and will result in further learning disruption, and greater gaps for students at home and for those with learning exceptionalities. Tech issues can never be completely eliminated and teachers will be forced to manage these problems rather than focusing on teaching two separate sets of students at the same time. Teachers and parents who have experienced this model this year have shared stories of the constant stress and chaos, despite teachers’ best efforts to make it work. This is not the world-class education Ontario parents have come to expect for our kids, and it is not an equitable solution.

Every child in Ontario needs and deserves access to quality public education. This is a right that must be protected. Savings should never come at the expense of our children, and we’ve already asked too much of them throughout the pandemic. It’s time to invest properly in education and protect both our kids and the future growth of Ontario. While last year couldn’t have been predicted and everyone had to make choices under extraordinary circumstances, we’re more aware now of what we’re dealing with and how the months ahead may look. Planning and funding should reflect students’ needs, and not what is easiest for boards or cheapest for the government. When a board is forced to implement a hybrid model choice is taken out of parents’ hands, and many may not realize what this plan will mean for their children. We ask you to value our kids’ learning appropriately and allocate provincial funds to allow boards to effectively offer both in-person and virtual learning streams, and provide additional resources to allow boards to address increased mental health needs and learning gaps as a result of disrupted learning during the pandemic. We need you to do what’s right for the two million students under your care and provide the resources needed to give our kids a great start back in September.

Sincerely,

Jill Promoli

Ontario Liberal Candidate for Mississauga – Streetsville