Some parents boycott online learning, saying it’s harmful to their children

One mom says ‘I feel like our kids are suffering’

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They are boycotting online learning — two days into the latest round — for the sake of their children.

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At least 3,100 parents have joined a Facebook group whose members have decided to boycott remote schooling, which is in effect across Ontario until at least Jan. 17.

Some have organized modest demonstrations to express their anger and worry about harm to their children’s education.

“My kids have been reported absent for the next two weeks and I am not logging them in,” said Stephanie Dinsmore of Hamilton, whose children are 10 and 6.

“I don’t have any great solutions other than I’m just trying to figure out what works for my family, and I know that online learning is not where it is.”

Dinsmore is a medical secretary at a clinic. Her husband manages a store and must be present at work.

She considers herself lucky her mother, 71, lives with them and can look after her two children.

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“I feel like our kids are suffering,” Oksana Roma said. She has a four-year-old and a five-year-old, one in senior kindergarten.

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“I feel it is not very beneficial to children. I feel like it’s taking away a lot of the essential things that children need for their development,” said the health-care worker, whose husband is a truck driver.

The Cayuga mother said neither she nor her husband can take time away from work to help manage online learning at home.

They have relied on her mother to provide child care while they work. It means not seeing their children most of the week.

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“I find it very difficult for a child five years old to be enrolled in any kind of online as opposed to in school,” Roma said.

Both Dinsmore and Roma insist it is better for their children to have the face-to-face school presence, structure and class discipline, which they have been lacking for so many months of the pandemic.

“It sucks to be stuck. I’m actually a really optimistic person. I do know we are going to come through the other side of this,” Dinsmore said. “But the effect it is having on my kids is heartbreaking.”

She, and many parents, are bracing for the imposition of remote learning to be extended past Jan. 17.

“I’m not logging my kids in,” Dinsmore insisted. “(But) if it goes past (Jan. 17), my hands may be forced to at least let them get some socialization with their peers online.”

slaurie@postmedia.com

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