COVID-19 brought work, school home

by | Mar 24, 2020 | Headlines, News

Nicholas Rahmon, Biz-Tech Reporter

Many Ontarians are working and learning from home due to the temporary closure of schools and non-essential businesses because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The work-from-home arrangements are part of province-wide efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19, an infectious disease that’s transmitted through respiratory droplets.

But using one’s home as an office or classroom is resulting in varying levels of success for Ontarians.

Joseph Malfara, a second-year Accounting student at York University, always checks the transit schedule every morning before his lectures. (Nicholas Rahmon)

Brigitte Hammond, a York Region prosecutor, said her work has been minimally impacted thanks to a number of technological options.

“We have a telework program in place that allows us to take our desk anywhere virtually we go,” Hammond said in a phone interview.

“[To deal with in-person cases], we have a call-in option for guilty pleas, video conferencing with York Regional Police and we have adjourned matters to a later date by court order from the Ontario Court of Justice,” she said.

Teachers, meanwhile, have also been forced to adapt, with many conducting lessons from home.

Some utilize e-learning, a form of education that many teachers were openly against when the provincial government of Doug Ford proposed it as a mandatory graduation requirement for secondary school students in 2019.

That, combined with classroom time lost during the rotating Ontario teacher strikes earlier this year, has some educators concerned.

“I already don’t get enough days with my students, and on top of that, they aren’t taking work as seriously as they should be from all the days off [they’ve received because of] COVID-19 and the strike,” Carly Di Marco, a long-term occasional and supply teacher in Peel, said by e-mail.

“In addition, the Ontario curriculum won’t be covered. There isn’t enough time, which is detrimental to [students’] learning,” she said.

Post-secondary students, many of whom have seen their courses shift to remote classes, appear to be having an easier time. 

“Completing schoolwork online hasn’t been a challenge for me because we don’t have to use social classroom apps or do group video calls. The professors uploaded all the information on our Moodle so we can have it,” said second-year York University student Joseph Malfara in a video call.

“York did a pretty good job of moving everything online, as did other schools during this crucial period. Students should still be able to learn and transferring resources online remains important,” he said.