It is official. Both Everett and Danika will be returning to their home school on February 16th after being part of the Grand Erie Virtual Academy for all of this school year so far. They have been doing online learning since the end of March after every school in Ontario shifted to an online format at the end of the last school year.
Emily and I have been impressed with the high-quality teachers and how well they've navigated the online environment to provide a warm and educational experience for our kids. The teachers being a great fit for our kids is one of the main reasons we've stuck with online schooling for as long as we did.
In the end, we decided it was better for our kids' emotional health to return to an in-person schooling environment where they can get more hands-on attention and be able to engage with their peers. They do see and interact with the students in their online class, but it isn't the same when the other students are a tiny thumbnail on a computer screen. Plus, my kids have been stuck at home since March with a few exceptions (trips to Medeba, outside visits), so having a physical school will help them get out of the house.
At this point, it is very clear my kids are tiring on spending all their time with each other and their parents. To be honest, their parents are getting worn out over it too. It was starting to become very obvious everyone's mental health was going to improve with the return of going to a physical school.
It has been priceless getting to spend extra time with my kids and I am very thankful for the close relationship I have with them. But a return to school is going to triple my productivity with my job and allow me to accomplish much more at a quicker pace. My career will benefit having the house to myself for a few hours to write again.
Of course, the cruel twist of irony, when we've decided that our kids will return to their home school on February 16th, the lockdown in Ontario means that their home school is currently online and thus not offering the benefits that persuaded us to switch schools. The bigger proverbial kick to the soft spot is that our kids' current teachers have been doing online teaching all year so they've become experts on it, while we'd be shifting to teachers who may not be as strong online due to teaching in-person most of the year.
If things don't get better and we end up having physical schools shutdown, then we just made the decision to change the teacher and students that our kids will have but staying online. This of course isn't ideal, but our board was set-up where there were specific days that we could choose the style of schooling then a few weeks after that the change would be implemented. This was our last chance to opt back, and so we took the gamble.
There is a chance that my kids' school will be back up and running in physical form by February 16th and even if that isn't the case, the slow roll-out of the vaccine and the change of weather gives me hope the online format won't be permanent for the remainder of the school year.
We kept our kids home for so many months because we felt it wasn't worth the health risk. It may seem odd we decided to have them go back when Covid-19 cases are at their worse. It has been long enough, and we've decided our kids' mental health needs to be the priority now. The hope is that we get to reap the actual benefit of the change by our kids being able to return and see their friends.
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. Let someone know that you love them.