School boards in Lambton-Kent say pandemic opened up a lot of minds

A graduation cap and diploma. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / iDesign.

The school boards in Lambton-Kent say the pandemic hasn’t been all bad and some good has come from a very unpredictable year.

Lambton-Kent District School Board Director of Education John Howitt believes parents have a better understanding of what teachers and students go through on a daily basis and appreciate the teaching profession more than they did. Howitt also feels students have learned some very important life skills like handling adversity.

Director of Education of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board Deb Crawford thinks teachers have become better at teaching online and said IT support is better. Crawford said the school year was difficult because teachers, parents and students had to deal with a lot and adapt to a lot but there was a great deal of collaboration that made it work. She said at first schools had to overcome a lack of access to technology and unreliable internet service but still managed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable families.

“We have learned a lot about using technology to leverage instruction. So, I think we’ll be able to take away some really good lessons as we move into a face-to-face model of how we can leverage technology to really enhance learning and then when it’s not suitable we won’t use it,” said Crawford.

As the school year ends, Crawford noted there’s a sense of optimism about returning to face-to-face learning in September and coming out of this pandemic with hope.

Howitt said adults should be celebrated for stepping up and helping students get through their day-to-day challenges and for the incredible sacrifices they made in the name of education.

“I think there’s a far better understanding within households about the incredible work that school staff do on behalf of students. I think there’s also a better understanding of what’s expected of students,” Howitt said. “There are a lot of families that lost jobs and lost income because of remote learning periods when they had to be home. That’s caused significant strife in the community and the sacrifices those families made really need to be recognized.”

Howitt also said that drive-thru graduations or something similar may become a mainstay in the future because schools are saying they like them because it keeps families together, unlike traditional graduations.

It seems not everybody is eager to return to class in the fall. Crawford said at her board about 100 elementary students and 100 secondary students have already signed up for online learning in the fall. Howitt said it about 350 elementary and 300 secondary students at his schools.