Volume one: learning and living during a pandemic

The Volume of Our Voices, Volume One: Learning and Living during a Pandemic features stories submitted by Ontario students on their experience learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The four major themes discussed are mental health, anti-Asian racism, remote learning, and the quadmester and octomester experience. These submissions are followed up with policy recommendations to stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education and school boards.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the lives of billions were upended around the world. Massive systems and institutions were disrupted, and the Ontario public education system is no exception. Students rode out the waves of invention and innovation from staff, schools, school boards, and a province attempting dozens of new local and provincial changes for the first time to adapt to the pandemic.

The pandemic continues into the 2021-2022 academic year. The Ministry of Education must strive to provide early and consistent directives to maximize stability of planning for all stakeholders in education, from school boards to families. Furthermore, the Ministry, school boards, and schools to take lessons learned from the current school year and apply changes to improve upon plans and models for the upcoming one. It is crucial for all aforementioned major decision-makers within public education to listen to students’ experiences and feedback and to shape ongoing and upcoming plans accordingly.

We invite you to ask yourself: what do these stories tell us? What have these disruptions and changes revealed and taught us about schooling both before and during a global pandemic? How do we use these experiences to teach us not how to revert back to what was “normal” for public education, but to rethink how things operate in the public education system as a whole?

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