Ontario launches online learning for students at home during COVID-19 pandemic
Published Friday, March 20, 2020 8:23AM EDT Last Updated Friday, March 20, 2020 7:25PM EDT
TORONTO -- The Ontario government has launched an online learning program for students at home during COVID-19 pandemic.
The materials include a new e-learning website for high school students, that the government promises will deliver "high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators."
The website offers students from Grade 9 to Grade 12 a variety of essential courses such as Grade 9 Science, Grade 10 Foundation of Mathematics, and Grade 12 Physics – which the Ministry of Education says is a product of the Ontario College of Teachers.
"Our plan will provide interactive teacher-led math supports to keep students learning and empower all students to learn key skills with an emphasis on STEM education, while also arming parents with resources to support them as their kids learn at home," Education Minister Stephen Lecce said on Friday.
However, the bulk of courses for Grade 12 students, many of whom need credits to graduate and for post-secondary education applications, have yet to be posted online.
The website is promising that the Ministry of Education will work quickly to “adapt courses” and add new courses for students.
The government said it was also working with school boards to “provide the necessary technology” for students who don't have access to a computer.
TVO Programming for young learners
For the province's youngest learners – from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 – the government will rely heavily on Television Ontario (TVO) which already offers a suite of cartoon-based math, science and language lessons.
The TV channel, free to all Ontarians, will be re-programmed for the next two weeks to include a steady stream of educational programs instead of daily cartoons.
The Ministry of Education has also launched a new website which includes the entire Ontario curriculum allowing parents to supplement their children’s education while at home.
While the COVID-19 school closure is expected to last until April 5, a decision on the rest of the school year has yet to be made.
Minister Lecce said the determination would be made “exclusively on the scientific and medical advice” from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, whose advice last week convinced the Ford government to shut down schools beyond March Break.
However, Premier Doug Ford warned parents to "be prepared for pretty well anything" during the COVID-19 response including lengthy school closures to ensure students and teachers remain safe.
"If kids get it, they can pass it to their grandparents, parents and we want to make sure we slow the spread," Ford said at Queen’s Park on Friday.
Lecce said the government would take the advice of Dr. Williams “without reservation” and offered up a plan to minimize learning loss if students can’t return to class.
"If we do have to go beyond the two weeks, I want parents to know with confidence that we will scale up and expand upon the first phase of the 'Learn at Home' program to ensure it is more robust," Lecce said.
Lecce said the government will also reach out to education unions and teachers over the next few days to "better involve educators as part of the solution."
"I know many of them want to be part of the solution to learning during this period of unprecedented instability."
Lecce also promised that “no student will have their graduation compromised due to COVID-19” and said students should still apply for post-secondary placements.