The first day of back-to-school is always one of mixed feeling: Anxiety, joy, hope – anticipation of a year full of learning.
Last year our children were held hostage by COVID. Across the country, on-again, off-again learning left deep scars on an entire generation and created huge deficits in what kids learned.
We cannot let that happen again. So far COVID has managed us. As we move into a new school year, we must learn how to manage it. It’s going to be around for a long time.
We can’t cower on Zoom for ever. We must learn to live with COVID sensibly.
That means the adults in the room – parents and teachers – must put aside their personal prejudices and fears. We must show our young people how to face the world head-on with courage.
Online learning, especially for elementary school kids, is not sustainable. Small children don’t have the attention span to stay focused on the virtual classroom for long.
It hurts the most disadvantaged kids hardest. Families where the parents don’t speak English, where they don’t have multiple computers or an adequate internet connection, have suffered disproportionately. That must end – now.
As millions of Canadian youngsters head back to classroom, let’s give them a lesson in courage. It won’t be easy. There are those who’ll demand a return to lock-downs and online schooling the minute COVID case numbers start to climb again – as they surely will once classes begin.
We can’t give in to such demands. Quite apart from the gaps that have opened up in our children’s learning, there’s also a social deficit. Young people need to be around other young people. These are their crucially important formative years. We don’t want to create a pandemic generation that’s scared of their shadows and flawed in their schooling.
Children learn by example. And they’re our future. If we want to tackle the next pandemic head-on, we need well-educated young people who can innovate and create and be on the cutting edge of science.
Most of all, we need them to be bold and brave and resilient – and to look the world in the eye.