May 13, 2020
ETFO Statement on ‘Synchronous’ Live Stream Instruction
ETFO educators are doing exceptionally well in adapting their teaching methodologies to address student needs during a global pandemic. It is discouraging that Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has diminished the efforts of those who are not live streaming their instruction.
ETFO has written to the Ministry of Education with a copy to school boards to express concerns regarding ‘synchronous’ or live-stream learning. The Federation is fundamentally opposed to it being mandated as a learning tool during this pandemic.
Until recently, the Ministry of Education supported educators using their professional judgement to ascertain the learning needs of their students and the best way to meet those needs given the current circumstances.
ETFO has repeatedly expressed concerns to the Ministry of Education about using live streaming to offer virtual instruction because this tool is not equitably available or accessible to all students. Children without access to tools to make live stream learning work are disproportionately from racialized, impoverished, single family or new Canadian homes.
Not all students can be online at the same time nor do they all have access to the Internet or a device. There may be multiple children and parents trying to work from home on one or two devices. Live streaming classes may not be appropriate for many students with unique and specialized needs.
There are also many privacy, safety and security issues for both educators and students with the use of live streaming.
The underlying problems created by live stream learning, which the Ministry has previously acknowledged, continue. The Ministry should not be mandating or pressuring educators to use ‘synchronous’ or live stream learning and instead should address these fundamental concerns.
ETFO members are professionals and love what they do. They have the expertise, passion, commitment and flexibility to respond to this public health emergency and are stepping up to deliver distance learning. They know their students best and their professional judgment allows them to know what works for all so that no students are left behind.
Educators miss their students and miss being able to do the best job they can in the classroom. Until schools reopen, they will continue to use their professional judgement and do the best they can to support students and their parents during this pandemic.