Parents fear psychological and mental costs of online learning

Study shows “students who felt that they mattered the least were those who learned online full-time”

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Some of the parents who have decided to boycott online learning say they are worried about the long-term impacts on their children.

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“I am not logging on — and that has already relieved a layer of stress on our family,” said Lisa Baetz, who joined six Hamilton families Wednesday at a protest with their children against online learning.

“The harm to children being out of school versus in, is so much greater. So we need to get them back. But I don’t believe for a second we will be back.”

Shannon Duran is also keeping her two children — in Grade 3 and Grade 6 — away from online learning this time around.

“What I have seen my kids do online was nothing like homeschooling through the board like my mom did with us,” Duran said. “It was just tragic and that’s how it felt; it felt like their spirits were just dying.”

Duran is quick to point out that her kids have had some amazing teachers during the various waves of disruption.

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But she wonders about the extended lack of in-person socialization.

A study last fall in the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment found “students who felt that they mattered the least were those who learned online full-time during the pandemic (elementary and secondary students).”

Their study included 6,578 Canadian students in Grades 4–12.

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Researchers from the University of Ottawa examined students’ perceptions of mattering during the pandemic in relation to in-person versus online learning.

“We found that elementary school students who attended school in-person reported mattering the most, followed by secondary school students who learned part-time in-person and the rest of the time online,” the authors wrote.

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Ontario’s latest plan for schooling has students learning remotely until at least Jan. 17.

The plan beyond that is still unknown.

  1. A grade six classroom is pictured at Hunter's Glen Junior Public School (Toronto District School Board) on Sept. 14, 2020.

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  2. A small group of parents with their children in tow protested outside the Ontario Legislature on Monday January 3, 2022.

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  3. Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a news conference in Toronto on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

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“Knowing how online, digital schooling affects elementary and secondary students is important because online learning is likely to be retained in some capacity after the pandemic,” the authors of the school study concluded.

Many parents say they are done with online.

“The mental health impact on the kids and on the families — this is taking its toll and we need to get back for these kids. These kids need it; they deserve it,” Baetz said.

“I can’t believe we are in our 23 rd month and fourth shutdown of schools.”

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