The virtual school bells will ring again on Monday as parents prepare for another week of distance learning.
Many parents and guardians in Simcoe County will be forced to rearrange their schedules to accommodate their child’s virtual schooling.
âI feel like a total failure that I can’t help them,â said Danielle Ritchie, a Wasaga Beach mother-in-law of four elementary school students.
This month, Ritchie enrolled in school to finish high school, but with the recent switch to e-learning, she’s putting her education aside to help her stepchildren navigate the virtual classroom. .
âI want to do my studies on my own but haven’t found the time to do it yet,â Ritchie said via Skype. âI tried to take classes at night, but there are day classes, which makes it difficult.
Ritchie is one of the many parents in central Ontario facing scheduling issues due to virtual learning.
Some parents told CTV News on Sunday that while their children have been able to adjust to the online routine, they miss physical interactions.
âHe misses his friends and teachers, but at the same time he understands,â said Lina Rojas, a first-year relative from Barrie. “I’m a nurse and he sees me going to work and I explain to him what COVID is.”
Dr Sohail Gandhi, who served as president of the Ontario Medical Association, said he has seen a surge in the number of pediatric patients struggling with their mental health.
He hopes the province, when managing future decisions about whether or not to maintain schools, will weigh the risks of COVID-19 and the effects on mental health.
âI think it was a mistake to close the schools and switch to virtual learning,â Gandhi said. âI see my pediatric patients struggling hard. “
Local pediatricians report increased depression, increased anxiety, and in some cases, eating disorders.
Dr Rob Meeder, medical director and pediatrician at the Waypoint Center for Mental Health Care in Orillia, said the continued uncertainty about the pandemic was hurting.
âThe future is difficult to predict and it can be a source of anxiety for families and children,â Meeder said.
He noted that the fact that children are not in school is detrimental to their mental health, but the recent rise in the Omicron variant has made him question whether it is possible to keep schools open.
âAt the end of December, I pleaded for the reopening of schools. I now look back and it would have been very chaotic with truancy and teachers unable to work, âMeeder said of teachers and staff catching the infectious variant.
While teachers, parents and students wait to see what happens after January 17, the two doctors recommend staying active and enjoying the outdoors to maintain physical and mental health.