It didn’t take long after the mad scramble caused by COVID-19’s forced closure of Ontario schools for Ginette Mack to realize some things never change.
“Kids are kids,” Mack says looking back on the days after rural Northumberland Christian School resorted to online learning to keep the school year going. “Within the first week, kids were doing all kinds of tricks with their computers. They’d put a different image on the screen or turn themselves upside down in the middle of class. It turns out classroom management is almost the same whether you’re doing it remotely or in a building. As teachers, you just laugh.”
Initially, Northumberland’s principal adds, there was anything but certainty at the 75-pupil K-8 school outside Cobourg Ontario when Premier Ford announced at March Break that all schools, including independents, would be closed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The timing meant students had already gone home, leaving schoolbooks and materials behind in a locked-down building with an unknown re-open date.
“It was a huge learning curve over March Break,” Mack says. “We told our families that we’d open the school for a day, staff would be there, and people could come in, grab all the books, indoor running shoes, school supplies, library books and laptops for them to borrow. All we asked is that they practice social distancing, and we could get them what they needed.”
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