Transcript: Ontario's Online Learning Future | Apr 06, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, lilac shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Ontario's online learning future. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says e-LEARNING HAS BEEN PART OF ONTARIO'S EDUCATION MIX FOR MANY DECADES, WITH A VARIETY OF PROVIDERS AND RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO EDUCATORS. THEN CAME A PANDEMIC, AND DOING SCHOOL ONLINE BECAME A WHOLE DIFFERENT BALLGAME. WHAT LESSONS SHOULD ONTARIO LEARN TO GET THE MOST FROM REMOTE LEARNING NOW AND IN THE FUTURE? LET'S FIND OUT AS WE ASK: IN VALLEJO, CALIFORNIA: MICHAEL BARBOUR, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN FOR THE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HEALTH SERVICES AT TOURO UNIVERSITY CALIFORNIA...

Michael is in his fifties, balding, with a full beard. He's wearing a blue polo shirt.

Steve continues IN THE EAST END OF ONTARIO'S CAPITAL CITY, THERE'S: CAROLINE ALPHONSO, EDUCATION REPORTER FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL...

Caroline is in her thirties, with shoulder-length wavy dark hair. She's wearing a black blouse

Steve continues AND IN SEATON VILLAGE: ANNIE KIDDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PEOPLE FOR EDUCATION.

Annie is in her seventies, with long silver-blond hair. She's wearing glasses, a black blazer and a white shirt.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU THREE WITH US, ADMITTEDLY ONLINE RATHER THAN IN THE STUDIO HERE AT TVO TONIGHT. BEFORE WE GO FURTHER, LET ME JUST START BY SAYING, IN THE INTERESTS OF FULL DISCLOSURE: TVO IS A PROVIDER OF THE PROVINCE'S DISTANCE AND ONLINE LEARNING. NOT THE AGENDA, NOT THE JOURNALISTIC SIDE OF THE ORGANIZATION, BUT ILC, THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE, WHICH HAS BEEN A DISTANCE LEARNING PARTNER WITH THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, FOR ALMOST 100 YEARS. AS WELL AS THROUGH OTHER ONLINE OFFERINGS. SO WE PUT THAT ON THE RECORD FOR EVERYONE'S INTEREST... EDIFICATION AND NOW WE GO. MICHAEL, SOME BACKGROUND FIRST. HOW LONG HAS ONLINE LEARNING BEEN A PART OF THE ONTARIO EDUCATION SYSTEM?

The caption changes to "Michael Barbour. Touro University California."
Then, it changes again to "Virtual education before the pandemic."

Michael says AS YOU KNOW, DISTANCE LEARNING IN ONTARIO HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ABOUT 100 YEARS, STARTING WITH THE CORRESPONDENCE MODEL, THE PAPER PACKETS BEING SENT BACK AND FORTH. THAT EVOLVED, AS THE TECHNOLOGY HAS EVOLVED. AND THE PEDAGOGICAL MODEL THAT WENT ALONG WITH IT HAS AS WELL. IN THE '90s, WE STARTED USING THE ONLINE TOOLS THAT WERE AVAILABLE TO US. A LOT OF THE DISTRICTS STARTED SETTING UP THEIR OWN PROGRAM. FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS, THE MINISTRY HAS PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN HOW THAT SYSTEM IS SET UP IN WHAT'S A FAIRLY CENTRALIZED SYSTEM WHERE THEY PROVIDE TOOLS AND CONTENT AND THEN THE DISTRICTS... OR THE SCHOOL BOARDS MANAGE THEIR OWN PROGRAMS.

Steve says SO TAKE US BACK TO BEFORE MARCH 2020. IN OTHER WORDS, BP, "BEFORE PANDEMIC." HOW MANY STUDENTS WOULD HAVE EARNED CREDITS THIS WAY?

Michael says IN THE PUBLIC SYSTEM, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN ABOUT 61,000 STUDENTS THAT WERE ENROLLED IN COURSES IN THE PROVINCIAL LEARNING MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. PROBABLY ANOTHER 2500 TO 3,000 STUDENTS IN THE FRENCH LANGUAGE PROGRAMS. THERE WOULD HAVE ALSO BEEN PROBABLY AROUND 15,000 STUDENTS THAT WERE TAKING COURSES FROM THE TVO PROGRAM, THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE, ALTHOUGH MANY OF THOSE STUDENTS WERE THOSE THAT WERE 16 AND OVER THAT HAD ALREADY SORT OF MOVED OUT OF THE SYSTEM IN FORMAL WAYS.

Steve says ANNIE, HOW DO WE CHARACTERIZE THAT? I MEAN, IN A PROVINCE OF 2 MILLION STUDENTS, IS THAT A LOT OR A LITTLE, OR WHAT DO WE THINK?

The caption changes to "Annie Kidder. People for Education."

Annie says IT'S A LITTLE ACCORDING TO THE GOVERNMENT'S NUMBERS, ONCE THEY MAKE ONLINE LEARNING MANDATORY FOR GRADUATION AND CENTRALIZED THE COURSES, THEY EXPECT 250,000 STUDENTS A YEAR TO BE LEARNING ONLINE. SO SO FAR IN THE LAST, LIKE, 20 YEARS, IT'S GONE FROM 2 percent OF STUDENTS WITHIN THE PUBLICLY FUNDED SYSTEM TAKING ONLINE COURSES, TO ABOUT 5 percent. SO WE KIND OF WENT FROM ZERO TO 60 OR ZERO TO 120 THIS YEAR, AND THE PLAN IS TO KEEP GOING AT THAT LEVEL.

Steve says AND WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF ADMINISTERING ALL THESE COURSES?

says FOR THE MOST PART, SCHOOL BOARDS. SO SCHOOL BOARDS HAD FORMED WHAT THEY CALLED CONSORTIA, SO THEY WORKED TOGETHER. SCHOOL BOARDS IN THE NORTH, PUBLIC BOARDS, CATHOLIC BOARDS, FRENCH BOARDS, TO DEVELOP, TO MANAGE THE ONLINE COURSES, TO KIND OF TRADE BACK AND FORTH SO THAT THERE WAS NO COST IF YOU WERE WITHIN A CONSORTIA, YOU COULD SAY, "OKAY, WE DON'T HAVE THIS GRADE 11 PHYSICS COURSE BUT THE NEXT BOARD OVER HAS IT. YOU CAN TAKE IT FROM THEM." OTHERWISE, BOARDS HAVE TO PAY. SO EVEN WITH THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE, THERE WAS A PAYMENT. SO BOARDS HAVE BEEN MANAGING IT PRETTY WELL UP TO NOW AND HAVE WORKED OVER THE YEARS, ESPECIALLY IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, SINCE WE'VE REALLY HAD ONLINE LEARNING, TO THINK ABOUT HOW THE TEACHING AND LEARNING HAPPENS, TO MAKE SURE TEACHERS ARE AVAILABLE, AND THESE COURSES ARE, YOU KNOW, TAUGHT BY TEACHERS. THERE ARE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN TEACHERS AND STUDENTS. IT'S NOT LIKE CORRESPONDENCE COURSES OF OLD WHERE YOU'RE KIND OF ON YOUR OWN. THESE HAPPENS IN REAL TIME.

Steve says CAROLINE, I DON'T KNOW IF IT'S POSSIBLE TO SORT OF RENDER A VERDICT ON... YOU KNOW, IF THERE'S A SCHOOL OF THOUGHT OUT THERE AS TO WHETHER THESE ARE WORKING VERY WELL, SORT OF WELL, NOT WELL AT ALL? WHAT'S THE GENERAL FEELING ABOUT ALL THAT?

The caption changes to "Caroline Alphonso. The Globe and Mail."

Caroline says WELL, I THINK IT DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU'RE LOCATED. SO IF YOU ARE A STUDENT WHOSE FAMILY IS TRAVELLING OR YOU'RE PART OF A SPORTS TEAM AND, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN ONLY SPEND PART OF THE DAY IN SCHOOL, YOU RELY ON THESE ONLINE COURSES TO GET YOU THROUGH. AND IT'S PRIMARILY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. FOR ELEMENTARY STUDENTS, I MEAN, THE SCHOOL OF THOUGHT, THE PEDAGOGY JUST SHOWS THAT KIDS NEED TO BE IN FRONT OF A TEACHER TO LEARN THOSE SOCIALIZATION SKILLS, TO LEARN HOW TO LEARN. AND SO THE SCHOOL OF THOUGHT IS THAT THOSE KIDS, ESPECIALLY THOSE YOUNGER KIDS, NEED TO BE IN A PHYSICAL CLASSROOM.

Steve says WHEN YOU SAY PEDAGOGY, I MEAN, TEACHING BASICALLY; THAT'S WHAT YOU MEAN?

Caroline says HOW KIDS LEARN. HOW KIDS LEARN. EXACTLY.

Steve says OKAY. MICHAEL, CAN I GET YOU ON THAT AS WELL? IN YOUR VIEW, BASED ON YOUR LOOK AT THINGS, HOW WELL OR NOT HAS THIS ONLINE SYSTEM, ASSOCIATED WITH PUBLIC EDUCATION, BEFORE PANDEMIC, HOW WELL HAS IT WORKED?

The caption changes to "Michael Barbour, @mkbtuc."

Michael says I THINK IT'S WORKED QUITE WELL AND I THINK THE IMPORTANT THING TO LOOK AT IS IT'S NOT THE MEDIUM THAT REALLY IS DICTATING THIS, IT'S HOW THE MEDIUM IS USED. THE CLASSROOM CAN BE AN EFFECTIVE OR INEFFECTIVE ENVIRONMENT, DEPENDING UPON HOW THE INDIVIDUAL TEACHER USES IT AND THE STRATEGIES THAT THEY BRING IN, THE RESOURCES THAT THEY BRING IN. THE SYSTEM THAT'S DEVELOPED IN ONTARIO WAS DEVELOPED TO SERVE A SPECIFIC TYPE OF STUDENT, AND I THINK THEY'VE DONE THAT QUITE WELL. THAT'S NOT SAYING THAT WITH THE PROPER RESOURCES AND PROPER TRAINING THAT IT COULDN'T BE ADAPTED TO SERVE OTHER TYPES OF STUDENTS.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. WITH ALL OF THAT BACKGROUND NOW IN PLACE, LET'S GO AP, "AFTER PANDEMIC," SO WE'RE NOW PAST MARCH 2020, AND CAROLINE, LET ME GET YOU TO START. THE EDUCATION SYSTEM OBVIOUSLY HAS HAD TO SIGNIFICANTLY PIVOT IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE A WHOLE NEW WAY OF LEARNING FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, IN MUCH BIGGER NUMBERS, AS ANNIE JUST INDICATED. HOW WELL OR NOT DO WE THINK IT'S WORKING SO FAR?

The caption changes to "Caroline Alphonso, @calphonso."

Caroline says SO IN ONTARIO, AS YOU KNOW, STEVE, THE GOVERNMENT HAS PROVIDED OPTIONS TO FAMILIES TO LEARN ONLINE OR BE IN THE CLASSROOM. ABOUT 20 percent OF ONTARIO STUDENTS HAVE DONE ONLINE LEARNING, ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE REMOTE LEARNING SYSTEM. IN SEPTEMBER, WE HEARD FROM SEVERAL BOARDS, YOU KNOW, IT GOT OFF TO A ROCKY START. THERE WERE A LOT OF STUDENTS WHO WERE NOT ATTACHED TO TEACHERS IN THE BEGINNING AND NOT TILL OCTOBER OR NOVEMBER DID THEY GET THEIR TEACHER. SO FAR, YOU KNOW, I HAVE TO SAY THAT IN THE ONLINE SYSTEM, FROM WHAT I'VE HEARD, THERE'S A MORE CONSISTENT SYSTEM OF KIDS BEING IN SCHOOL AS OPPOSED TO THOSE IN THE BRICKS AND MORTAR SCHOOLS WHICH HAVE BEEN ASKED TO SELF-ISOLATE A NUMBER OF TIMES, WHO HAVE BEEN IN AND OUT OF SCHOOL, THE PHYSICAL CLASSROOM A NUMBER OF TIMES. SO THERE HAS BEEN MORE CONSISTENCY, SO TO SPEAK, IN THE ONLINE SYSTEM AFTER THE ROCKY START AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR.

Steve says COULD I GET YOU TO AMPLIFY ON THAT? WHEN YOU SAY IT'S BEEN MORE CONSISTENT, CONSISTENTLY WHAT?

Caroline says CONSISTENT IN THE SENSE THAT KIDS HAVE BEEN IN A CLASSROOM, AN ONLINE CLASSROOM, WHEREAS IN THE BRICKS AND MORTAR SCHOOL, WHEN YOU HAVE A CASE, YOUR KIDS ARE AT HOME FOR 14 DAYS ISOLATING. YOU KNOW, THEY'RE MOVING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN THE BRICKS AND MORTAR CLASSROOM AND GOING INTO A REMOTE LEARNING PERIOD. SO AS FAR AS CONSISTENCY AS A KID IN FRONT OF A TEACHER FOR THAT LENGTH OF TIME, THERE HAS BEEN THAT CONSISTENCY IN AN ONLINE CLASSROOM.

Steve says ONE MORE FOLLOW-UP, CAROLINE. WE HEAR A LOT OF TERMS USED INTERCHANGEABLY, ONLINE LEARNING, VIRTUAL LEARNING, SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING. DOES IT ALL ESSENTIALLY MEAN THE SAME THING OR ARE THERE NUANCES HERE?

Caroline says IT'S ALL THE SAME THING. WE INTERCHANGE ONLINE LEARNING WITH REMOTE LEARNING. IT'S THE SAME THING IN ONTARIO. KIDS ARE LEARNING ONLINE, THEY'RE LEARNING REMOTELY, THEY'RE LEARNING OUTSIDE OF THE PHYSICAL CLASSROOM.

Steve says ANNIE, LET'S GO TO YOU AGAIN. YOUR BASIC JUDGMENT ON HOW WELL ONLINE LEARNING HAS BEEN WORKING AP, AFTER PANDEMIC?

The caption changes to "Annie Kidder, @Anniekidder."

Annie says WELL, I THINK THAT IS THE GAZILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, SO WE DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW. SO THAT'S THE FIRST THING, IS THAT IT'S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE THE INFORMATION FROM SCHOOL BOARDS, FROM STUDENTS, FROM THEIR PARENTS, FROM EDUCATORS, AND WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH RESEARCH RIGHT NOW AND I'M NOT TOTALLY SURE THAT THERE'S BEEN ENOUGH PUT IN TO MAKING SURE THAT WE'RE UNDERSTANDING IT. THERE HAVE BEEN LOTS OF GREAT SUCCESSES. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN INCREDIBLY INNOVATIVE TO TRY AND MAKE IT WORK. SYNCHRONOUS ISN'T THE SAME AS ONLINE LEARNING. SO SOMETIMES YOU'RE LEARNING IN REALTIME WITH A TEACHER ONLINE. SOMETIMES YOU'RE LEARNING ON YOUR OWN, WITHOUT A TEACHER KIND OF ALIVE THERE. BUT I THINK THAT THE BIGGEST ISSUE RIGHT NOW IS THAT WE DO NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHO IS IT WORKING FOR, HOW IS IT WORKING, WHAT KINDS OF METHODS ARE... IS EVERYBODY FINDING MORE EFFECTIVE? YOU KNOW, ARE THERE SOME STUDENTS WHO ARE TOTALLY ENGAGED THIS WAY; OTHER STUDENTS WHO STRUGGLE WITH IT? ONE OF THE ISSUES THAT HAS BEEN BROUGHT UP A LOT IS THE KIND OF DISPROPORTIONATE OR THE INEQUITY IN TERMS OF HOW STUDENTS ARE DOING. SO REAL CONCERNS HAVE BEEN RAISED ABOUT... IN FAMILIES THAT ARE ALREADY STRUGGLING, MAYBE THEIR PARENTS ARE ESSENTIAL WORKERS SO THEY'RE NOT AT HOME. THERE MAY BE SOME MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY. AND KIDS WHO WERE ALREADY STRUGGLING IN SCHOOL. THE ASSUMPTION RIGHT NOW, BASED ON EVIDENCE, IS THAT THOSE KIDS ARE STRUGGLING MUCH MORE THAN OTHER KIDS WHO HAVE PARENTS WHO ARE WORKING AT HOME, WHO HAVE LOTS OF CAPACITY TO PROVIDE SUPPORT. SO THERE'S A BUNCH OF UNKNOWNS IN THERE. BUT NONE OF THAT IS TO SAY ONLINE LEARNING IS INHERENTLY WRONG OR EVIL OR A TERRIBLE IDEA. WE JUST NEED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW IT WORKS.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says ALL RIGHT. MICHAEL BARBOUR, THAT'S, I GUESS, SOME OF THE VERDICT FROM ONTARIO RIGHT NOW. I'M ACTUALLY GOING TO FOLLOW UP WITH ANNIE A LITTLE BIT LATER ON WHY WE DON'T KNOW 13, 14 MONTHS AFTER OR INTO THIS, WHY WE DON'T KNOW MORE. BUT I'M GOING TO HOLD OFF ON THAT QUESTION FOR A SECOND. FROM YOUR PERCH, YOU'RE A CANADIAN BUT YOU'RE IN CALIFORNIA, WHAT'S YOUR VERDICT ON HOW WELL ONLINE LEARNING IS WORKING POST-PANDEMIC?

The caption changes to "Teaching remotely during a crisis."

Michael says THE FIRST THING IS I ACTUALLY DISAGREE WITH SOMETHING CAROLINE SAID. I DON'T THINK EMERGENCY REMOTE LEARNING, ONLINE LEARNING ARE ALL THE SAME THING. WHAT WE SAW IN THE SPRING WAS EMERGENCY REMOTE LEARNING. IT'S ALL HANDS ON DECK. LET'S TRY TO DO ANYTHING WE CAN TO PROVIDE SOME LEVEL OF CONTINUITY OF LEARNING SO THAT OUR STUDENTS ARE AT LEAST SOMEWHAT SUPPORTED. AND ANYTHING THE TEACHER DID BACK THEN TO, MY MIND, HATS OFF, THEY DID WONDERFUL BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T TRAINED FOR THIS. THEY WEREN'T PREPARED FOR THIS. DISTRICTS DIDN'T HAVE THINGS IN PLACE FOR IT. AND WE HAD WHAT WE HAD. ALL OF THE THINGS THAT ANNIE LISTED ABOUT HOW WE SHOULD HAVE LOOKED AT THE PEDAGOGIES AND THE TOOLS AND WHO HAD WHAT DEVICE, ALL OF THAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED IN THE LATE SPRING, EARLY SUMMER, SO WE COULD HAVE DELAYED THE BEGINNING OF THIS SCHOOL YEAR BY A WEEK OR TWO SO WE COULD DISTRIBUTE THOSE DEVICES, PROVIDE THOSE OPPORTUNITIES, GIVE STUDENTS AND TEACHERS AND PARENTS, FOR THAT MATTER, THE TRAINING ON, HOW DO WE LEARN IN THIS KIND OF ENVIRONMENT? BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH THIS, SAVE THOSE 61,000 STUDENTS THAT WERE TAKING IT PRIOR TO THE PANDEMIC. SO WE NEEDED TO DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS THEN TO SHIFT INTO A REMOTE TEACHING SITUATION. AND WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW IS WE'RE STILL IN THIS EMERGENCY SITUATION. WE'RE STILL, YOU KNOW, GOING FROM THE CRISIS OF THE MINUTE TO THE NEXT CRISIS OF THE MINUTE, WHICH IS WHY WE DON'T HAVE THAT CONSISTENCY, AS CAROLINE MENTIONED. YOU KNOW, SO A LOT OF THE STUFF THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN HAPPENING UP AND TO THIS POINT HASN'T BEEN HAPPENING. AND IT'S NOT NECESSARILY ONLY ONTARIO. I MEAN, IF YOU LOOK ACROSS CANADA, ACROSS NORTH AMERICA, THERE'S NOT A SINGLE GOVERNMENT REALLY THAT HAS DONE THAT ASPECT OF THIS WELL.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. WE DO... I SHOULD SAY, JUST BEFORE WE GO ON, WE DO LOVE CIVILIZED DISAGREEMENT ON THIS PROGRAM AND I THINK WE JUST HAD SOME OF IT. CAROLINE, I FEEL AN OBLIGATION TO GET YOU A CHANCE TO RESPOND TO ANY OF THAT, IF YOU WANT TO.

Caroline says WHEN I TALKED ABOUT THE FACT ONLINE LEARNING AND REMOTE LEARNING, WE USE THAT INTERCHANGEABLY, IN THE ENVIRONMENT IN ONTARIO, WHERE WE HAVE A BRICKS AND MORTAR CLASSROOM, THAT'S AN OPTION FOR PARENTS, OR AN ONLINE OPTION. SO THOSE ARE TWO OPTIONS THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO PARENTS RIGHT NOW. WITHIN THE ONLINE ENVIRONMENT, WITHIN THE REMOTE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, THERE IS SYNCHRONOUS LEARNING, ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING, BUT WE'RE USING THE TERM OF KIDS BEING AT HOME LEARNING VERSUS KIDS BEING IN THE CLASSROOM LEARNING, AND THAT IS THE WAY IT IS IN ONTARIO. THAT'S THE WAY IT'S STRUCTURED CURRENTLY.

Steve says OKAY. THAT HAVING BEEN SAID, LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH YOU, CAROLINE, ON A PIECE THAT YOU DID, OH, I GUESS A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO IN THE GLOBE AND MAIL, IN WHICH YOU SUGGESTED THAT THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO IS CONSIDERING MAKING CLASSES AVAILABLE ONLINE TO ALL GRADES STARTING IN THE FALL, AND I GUESS WE'VE GOT TO START BY UNDERSTANDING, HOW WOULD THIS CHANGE THE WAY STUDENTS ARE LEARNING ONLINE OR HAVE THAT OPTION AVAILABLE TO THEM AT THE MOMENT?

Caroline says I DESCRIBED THIS, STEVE, AS A VERY SIGNIFICANT SHIFT TO THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM IN ONTARIO. YOU KNOW, THROUGHOUT THE YEARS, WE HAVE DOCUMENTED CHANGES TO THE SYSTEM, WHETHER IT'S THE INTRODUCTION OF FULL-DAY KINDERGARTEN, WHETHER IT'S, YOU KNOW, THE ELIMINATION OF GRADE 13. HERE WE HAVE ANOTHER SHIFT HAPPENING IN PUBLIC EDUCATION WHERE, ACCORDING TO THIS DOCUMENT THAT WAS SHARED WITH EDUCATION STAKEHOLDERS, WHICH IS TEACHER UNIONS, SCHOOL BOARD REPS, PRINCIPALS, ADMIN, TRUSTEE ASSOCIATIONS. WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS PROPOSING IS LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ENTRENCH REMOTE LEARNING, ONLINE LEARNING, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT THESE DAYS, WOULD ENTRENCH IT IN THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM, THAT WOULD GIVE PARENTS, GIVE FAMILIES THE OPTION AT THE SECONDARY LEVEL OR THE ELEMENTARY LEVEL TO EITHER CHOOSE TO SEND THEIR CHILDREN TO A BRICKS AND MORTAR CLASSROOM OR TO CONTINUE ONLINE LEARNING.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. ANNIE, THIS IS BEING CHARACTERIZED OR PORTRAYED BY THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO AS MORE PARENTAL CHOICE. IS THAT THE APPROPRIATE FRAMING OF THIS ISSUE, IN YOUR VIEW?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Annie says WELL, IT IS, IT IS A MAJOR SHIFT, AND I THINK A MAJOR PART OF THIS, AND MY PROVISO HERE IS I LOVE TVO. I THINK IT'S INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT. I LOVED IT FOR MY KIDS. I LOVE "THE AGENDA." IT'S GREAT. BUT PART OF THIS MAJOR SHIFT IS TO CENTRALIZE CONTROL OVER ONLINE LEARNING WITH THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE. THAT'S TAKING CONTROL OVER THAT PART OF THE LEARNING FOR SECONDARY STUDENTS OUT OF THE HANDS OF SCHOOL BOARDS, OUT OF THE HANDS EVEN OF THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND HANDING IT OVER TO WHAT IS, YOU KNOW, A NON-PROFIT, IT'S AN ARM'S LENGTH AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT, BUT IT'S NOT ACCOUNTABLE IN THE SAME WAY THAT GOVERNMENTS ARE. SO THAT'S ONE WORRYING PIECE IN THIS. I THINK THE OTHER PIECE GOES BACK TO WHAT MICHAEL WAS SAYING AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE LEARNING WE'RE HAVING RIGHT NOW, WHICH IS STILL KIND OF EMERGENCY LEARNING, SO IT'S NOT LIKE WE'VE DEVELOPED ALL OF THE COURSES THAT ARE NECESSARY IN THE SYSTEM TO DELIVER THEM ONLINE. TEACHERS AND BOARDS ARE ADAPTING WHAT'S AVAILABLE NOW AND DELIVERING THEM ONLINE. THIS SHIFT THE GOVERNMENT IS SUGGESTING WOULD MAKE ALL OF THAT HAPPEN SO THAT COURSES WOULD BE AVAILABLE TO DELIVER ONLINE AND HAPPEN VERY, VERY QUICKLY, SO THAT SUDDENLY YOU WOULD HAVE ALL OF THE ONLINE LEARNING, AGAIN, UNDER THE CONTROL OF TVO, THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE, AND ALL OF THE COURSES READY TO GO OUT IN ABOUT A YEAR, AND I THINK THAT FOR EVERYBODY RIGHT NOW... AND BACK TO HOW WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH INFORMATION ABOUT HOW KIDS ARE DOING AS IT IS... TO DO SOMETHING HUGE LIKE THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CRISIS THAT WE ARE STILL DEFINITELY IN IN ONTARIO, WHERE THERE'S MASSIVE CHANGE, WHERE EVERYTHING IS DESTABILIZED, IT'S INCREDIBLY WORRYING AND IT'S REALLY HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHAT'S THE RUSH. WHY DO THIS? WHY NOW? ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU KNOW, BOARDS DEFINITELY... AND PARENTS AND KIDS AND EVERYBODY WORKING IN THE SYSTEM... WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT'S GOING TO BE AVAILABLE IN THE FALL. IT STILL SEEMS AS IF WE'RE GOING TO BE IN A PERIOD OF INSTABILITY. SO ENSURING THAT WE'VE PERFECTED AND WE UNDERSTAND HOW ONLINE LEARNING WORKS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN BE DOING RIGHT NOW, RATHER THAN JUST GOING: LET'S CHANGE IT ALL SO THAT ANYBODY CAN HAVE THIS CHOICE.

Steve says ANNIE, THEY DO SAY, YOU NEVER SHOULD LET A GOOD CRISIS GO TO WASTE, SO MAYBE THAT'S WHY THEY WANT TO DO IT NOW INSTEAD OF WAIT UNTIL THE PANDEMIC IS OVER?

Annie says THAT COULD BE TRUE BUT OTHERS MIGHT SAY SOMETIMES YOU CAN USE A CRISIS TO KIND OF DISGUISE WHAT YOU'RE DOING SO THAT, IN A CRISIS, NOBODY IS TOTALLY PAYING ATTENTION AND YOU MAKE AN ENORMOUS CHANGE... CAROLINE IS RIGHT... TO THAT WHOLE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. BUT EVERYBODY IS REALLY JUST WORRYING ABOUT, ARE THEY GOING TO GET VACCINATED? IS THERE SCHOOL GOING TO BE OPEN OR CLOSED? EVERYBODY'S EYE RIGHT NOW IS ON THE IMMEDIATE CRISIS. AND I WOULD ARGUE THAT WE ARE NOT READY TO MAKE THIS CHANGE BECAUSE, BACK TO WHAT I SAID, WE ACTUALLY DON'T KNOW HOW IT'S BEEN WORKING. SO IT'S LIKE WE'RE MAKING THIS CHANGE BEFORE WE'VE FIGURED IT OUT. AND THAT IS, I THINK, NOT GOOD FOR KIDS.

Steve says MICHAEL, I NEED TO GET YOUR SENSE OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE MOVE OF ONLINE EDUCATION FROM WHAT WE'RE EXPERIENCING NOW, WHICH IS ESSENTIALLY AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE TO THE PANDEMIC, TO A MORE FUNDAMENTAL, ENTRENCHED PART OF THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO'S EDUCATION SYSTEM? HOW DO YOU REGARD THAT?

Michael says WELL, AS CAROLINE MENTIONED, IT IS A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE, BUT A CHANGE DEPENDING ON HOW IT'S USED MAY NOT NECESSARILY BE A BAD THING. IF YOU THINK ABOUT THAT 10-YEAR-OLD GRADE 5 STUDENT WHO MIGHT BE IN A RURAL AREA AND THE ONLY BRICK AND MORTAR SCHOOL THEY CAN ATTEND THEY'RE BEING BULLIED AT SCHOOL EVERY DAY, AND IT'S JUST A CRIME TO BE SENDING THEM BACK TO THAT BUILDING DAY AFTER DAY. PROVIDING THAT STUDENT WITH THE OPTION TO DO ALL OF THEIR CLASSES ONLINE, TO REMOVE THEM FROM THAT SITUATION, IS NOT NECESSARILY A BAD THING. NOW, IF THE GOVERNMENT IS DOING THIS BECAUSE THEY ARE HOPING THAT THIS IS A CHEAPER OPTION OF DOING IT, THEN THAT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY AND THEY'RE LOOKING AT MOVING MASS NUMBERS OF STUDENTS ONTO THE ONLINE SYSTEM. THE MODEL THAT THEY HAVE RIGHT NOW... I MEAN, REALLY WHAT YOU HAVE IS TOOLS AND CONTENT BEING PROVIDED BY THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION. THEY'RE JUST GOING TO SHIFT THAT. AND NOW THOSE THINGS WILL BE PROVIDED BY TVO. THE MAIN DIFFERENCE IN WHAT'S BEEN PROPOSED IS WHAT ANNIE SAYS, IT'S THE CONTROL OF THE ACTUAL MANAGEMENT OF THE SYSTEM. RIGHT NOW, SCHOOL BOARDS MANAGE THEIR OWN SYSTEMS, FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY NEED, PROVIDE TRAINING TO THEIR OWN TEACHERS, COOPERATE WITH OTHER BOARDS THAT ARE PROVIDING THINGS THAT THEY DON'T HAVE THE ABILITY TO OFFER... ALL OF THAT GETS BROUGHT INTO THE MINISTRY. AND WHILE WE'VE SEEN THIS BE SUCCESSFUL IN SOME JURISDICTIONS, THE QUESTION IS... WE'VE GOT A SYSTEM THAT IS WORKING PRETTY WELL. AND IF THE GOAL IS SIMPLY TO OPEN UP THE VARIETY OF STUDENTS AND THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS AND THE TYPES OF STUDENTS, THOSE THAT ARE CLOSEST TO THE STUDENTS, SO THOSE AT THE SCHOOL AND AT THE BOARD LEVEL, THOSE ARE PROBABLY THE ONES THAT ARE BETTER PLACED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TYPE OF SUPPORTS AND RESOURCES THESE STUDENTS NEED TO BE SUCCESSFUL FOR A BROADER SYSTEM THAN FOLKS SITTING IN THE MINISTRY OR SITTING AT TVO.

Steve says CAROLINE, I WANT TO FOLLOW UP WITH YOU ON LITERALLY JUST ONE WORD THAT MICHAEL USED IN THAT ANSWER, AND THE WORD IS "CHEAPER." IT'S NOT HARD TO IMAGINE THAT IF ONLINE TAKES OFF, YOU NEED FEWER BUSES, YOU NEED FEWER TEACHERS, YOU NEED FEWER BRICKS AND MORTAR BUILDINGS, YOU NEED FEWER OF A LOT OF THINGS. BASED ON YOUR INTERVIEWS AND WHAT YOU'VE BEEN ABLE TO UNCOVER THROUGH YOUR REPORTING, DO YOU THINK A CHEAPER, LESS EXPENSIVE SYSTEM, IS AT THE FOUNDATION OF THIS EFFORT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO?

Caroline says YOU KNOW, STEVE, JUST LIKE MICHAEL AND ANNIE HAVE SAID, WE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW THIS IS GOING TO ACTUALLY WORK AND PLAY OUT IN THE SYSTEM... QUESTIONS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN ANSWERED... AND THERE IS CONCERN FROM PEOPLE THAT I'VE SPOKEN WITH ABOUT THE FACT THAT IT WOULD BE CHEAPER. YOU KNOW, HOW... WILL THERE BE LIVE TEACHING IN AN ONLINE SYSTEM? HOW MUCH LIVE TEACHING WILL THERE BE? HOW BIG WILL THE CLASSES BE? HOW BIG ARE THEY ALLOWED TO BE? YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE CLASS SIZES IN ONTARIO'S PUBLICLY FUNDED PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM. YOU HAVE MAXIMUMS AND MINIMUMS IN THERE. WHAT CHANGE IS ONLINE, HOW BIG ARE THESE CLASSES AND WHO IS IN FRONT OF THESE KIDS, IF THERE IS ANYBODY? AND THE COST IS A BIG THING. I MEAN, IS THE GOVERNMENT LOOKING TO SAVE SOME MONEY HERE? AND THAT'S A QUESTION THAT I'VE HEARD FROM SO MANY PEOPLE THAT HASN'T BEEN ANSWERED AS YET.

Steve says ANNIE, WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF IT?

Annie says AND ALSO, IN ADDITION, THEY'RE SETTING UP THIS SORT OF CENTRAL AGENCY AND THEY'RE CALLING IT A REVENUE GENERATOR. SO PART OF THE PLAN IS, THEN THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE COULD BE SELLING COURSES TO OTHER PROVINCES, TO OTHER COUNTRIES, AND RIGHT NOW IN THE MODEL THAT GOT SHARED WITH EVERYBODY, THERE ARE NO LIMITS ON CLASS SIZES FOR THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE. THEY'RE STILL WITHIN THIS MODEL, KIDS CAN CHOOSE TO BE TAUGHT BY A REAL LIVE TEACHER, PART OF THE TIME SYNCHRONOUSLY, SO IN REALTIME. BUT WITH THE TOTALLY INDEPENDENT, THERE IS... RIGHT NOW, THERE'S NO, YOU KNOW, STUDENT-TEACHER INTERACTION IN REALTIME AND THERE'S NO LIMIT ON THE CLASS SIZE. SO I THINK CAROLINE'S POINT... AND I THINK WE'RE ALL SAYING THE SAME THING. IN THIS DOCUMENT, IT SAYS LEGISLATION IS PLANNED FOR THIS SPRING, WHICH IT IS SPRING RIGHT NOW, TO MAKE THIS MASSIVE CHANGE TO THE SYSTEM WITHOUT ENOUGH KNOWLEDGE. IT DOES SEEM AS IF IT WILL BE CHEAPER. BUT ALSO, I JUST WANT TO MAKE SURE... WE ARE NOT SAYING ONLINE LEARNING IS BAD, AND I AGREE WITH MICHAEL AND CAROLINE, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT ONLINE LEARNING AND WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT WHAT IT DOES OFFER STUDENTS AND HOW IT CAN BE USED IN COMBINATION WITH FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING. BUT ONE OF THE KIND OF THINGS THE PROVERBIAL "WE" IN QUOTATION MARKS KNOWS, IS THAT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF LEARNING IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STUDENT AND TEACHER, AND THE WORRY IS THAT WE'RE NOT LOOKING AT THAT, YOU KNOW, STRONGLY ENOUGH, AND UNDERSTANDING WHAT AND HOW THAT RELATIONSHIP WORKS ONLINE, AND MAKING SURE THAT WE'RE SLOWLY, YOU KNOW, MOVING OURSELVES INTO... IT IS 2021. WE SPEND OUR WHOLE LIVES ONLINE ANYWAY. AND PART OF LEARNING IS GOING TO BE ONLINE. BUT TO SUDDENLY PASS LEGISLATION TO MOVE CONTROL OF ONLINE LEARNING OUT OF THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TO MAKE IT... MAKE IT A CHOICE AS IF THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, BEFORE WE UNDERSTAND THE PEDAGOGY, AS CAROLINE SAID, AND THE DIFFERENCES AMONG STUDENTS, BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE NEED RIGHT NOW. WE NEED THE RESEARCH, WE NEED THE INFORMATION, AND WE NEED TO SLOWLY MAKE SOME OF THIS CHANGE BUT NOT ALL OF IT.

Steve says ALL RIGHT. MICHAEL, HERE IS WHERE I NOW CIRCLE BACK TO THE COMMENTS ANNIE MADE EARLIER, WHICH IS THAT WE STILL DON'T HAVE, IN HER VIEW, ADEQUATE INFORMATION UPON WHICH TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT HOW THE LAST YEAR HAS ROLLED OUT IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO AS IT RELATES TO ONLINE EDUCATION. IF THAT'S IN FACT THE CASE, DO YOU THINK IT MAKES SENSE FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO TO BE COMMITTING ITSELF SO SIGNIFICANTLY TO INCLUDING ONLINE AS PART OF OUR EDUCATIONAL FUTURE WHEN WE DON'T NECESSARILY HAVE THE INFORMATION NEEDED TO MAKE THAT CALL?

The caption changes to "Looking ahead."

Michael says WELL, I THINK A LOT OF IT DEPENDS ON HOW THEY'RE GOING TO BASE THE SYSTEM. IF THEY'RE BASING IT ON WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST YEAR THEN, YES, ANNIE IS ABSOLUTELY CORRECT. THE REALITY IS IN ALL HONESTY IS WHAT'S HAPPENED OVER THE LAST YEAR ISN'T REALLY EFFECTIVE ONLINE LEARNING. AS I INDICATED EARLIER, IT IS EMERGENCY REMOTE TEACHING. THIS IS CRISIS TEACHING. OR PANDEMIC PEDAGOGY, IF YOU WILL. IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT THEY'VE LEARNED IN THE 20 YEARS LEADING UP TO THAT POINT, THE 25 YEARS LEADING UP TO THAT POINT, IF THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE BASING THEIR SYSTEM ON, THEN THAT'S A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT STORY. AND THIS IS PART OF, I THINK, ONE OF THE DIFFICULTIES THAT THE GOVERNMENT HASN'T DONE A GOOD JOB AT AND ONE OF THE REASONS WHY FOLKS LIKE CAROLINE HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS IS BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T EXPLAINED EXACTLY WHAT THIS MODEL IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE. IN YOUR QUESTION TO CAROLINE, YOU MENTIONED THAT THERE WERE FEWER TEACHERS IN THE SYSTEM. IF YOU LOOK NEXT DOOR TO MICHIGAN, IN THE MICHIGAN SYSTEM, FOR ALL OF THE STUDENTS THAT ARE IN THEIR GRADUATION REQUIREMENT PROGRAMS, ALL THE STUDENTS THAT ARE TAKING THAT ONE COURSE TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL, THEY ALL HAVE INTERACTION WITH TWO TEACHERS: ONE WHO TEACHES ONLINE, AND THEN ONE AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL WHO IS SUPPOSED TO FACILITATE WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE CLASSROOM. I MEAN, IN MANY CASES THEY'RE THERE JUST TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY'RE ON TASK, BUT IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE I'VE DONE GRADE 12 CHEMISTRY, BUT I'M SURE I COULD MUDDLE MY WAY HELPING A STUDENT THROUGH IT. AND THE PROBLEM-SOLVING PROCESS I GO THROUGH IS GOING TO MODEL FOR THAT STUDENT THINGS THAT THEY COULD BE DOING ON THEIR OWN. SO IN THAT SYSTEM, EVERY SINGLE STUDENT IS HAVING TWO TEACHERS WITH THEM. SO IT'S NOT ACTUALLY FEWER TEACHERS. IT'S NOT SAVING THEM ANY MONEY. IT'S ACTUALLY COSTING THEM MORE. AND IF THAT'S THE MODEL THAT THEY'RE LOOKING AT, I THINK THAT MOST OF US WOULD AGREE THAT THAT'S NOT A BAD MODEL TO HAVE. THE PROBLEM IS ALL THE QUESTIONS THAT WE STILL HAVE BECAUSE WE DON'T KNOW WHAT THE GOVERNMENT IS INTENDING, WHAT THEY'RE PLANNING, AND WHAT THIS IS GOING TO LOOK LIKE ON THE IMPLEMENTATION SIDE BECAUSE THEY JUST HAVEN'T TOLD US YET.

Steve says ANNIE, I THINK WE DO KNOW, I'M NOT GOING OUT ON TOO BIG A LIMB BY SAYING THAT THE ONTARIO BUDGET CAME OUT TWO WEEKS AGO AND THEY'RE SPENDING NORTH OF 30 BILLION dollars ANNUALLY IN ONTARIO THESE DAYS. I CAN'T IMAGINE THEY'RE ABOUT TO DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF TEACHERS THAT ARE GOING TO BE TEACHING IN OUR SYSTEM, ONE IN-CLASS, ONE ONLINE. FAIR TO SAY?

Annie says YES. IT IS ABOUT ALL THE UNKNOWNS BUT IT'S ABOUT THEY'RE DOING THIS NOW SO I'M NOT SURE THEY KNOW EITHER. AND DEFINITELY THERE HAS BEEN IN THE PAST, KIDS HAVE LEARNED ONLINE. THEY'VE MOSTLY BEEN PRESENT IN SCHOOL WHILE THEY'VE BEEN DOING THAT LEARNING. OTHER TEACHERS HAVE TO SUPPORT THEM. IT ACTUALLY DID COST MONEY BECAUSE I THINK THAT'S THE OTHER HUGE QUESTION HERE. THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY WARNED SCHOOL BOARDS, YOU'RE NOT GETTING THE 1.6 BILLION dollars EXTRA THAT YOU HAD THIS YEAR. SO THERE'S GOING TO BE LESS MONEY IN THE SYSTEM. THERE'S HUGE CHANGE. AND LESS MONEY FOR BOARDS TO UNDERSTAND, FOR EXAMPLE, IF I HAVE A KID WHO IS LEARNING PARTLY ONLINE BUT GOING TO SCHOOL FOR PHYS. ED. AND FOR GUIDANCE COUNSELLING, HOW DO I GET FUNDING FOR THAT? BECAUSE RIGHT UNDER THE PLAN BOARDS PAY THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE FOR THE STUDENTS THAT ARE LEARNING THROUGH THE INDEPENDENT LEARNING CENTRE. SO THERE ARE... THERE ARE A MILLION QUESTIONS AND, YOU KNOW, AS MANY PEOPLE HAVE SAID, A LOT OF THIS IS ABOUT IMPLEMENTATION, AND I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, THAT AGAIN, IT BEGS THE QUESTION: WHAT IS THE RUSH HERE? WHY ARE WE DOING IT NOW WHEN WE'RE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS MESS? IT DOES SEEM THAT THERE IS A STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT IT'S PARTLY A WAY TO SAVE MONEY BUT IT'S ALSO PARTLY TAKING PART OF THE PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEM AND MOVING IT OUT OF THE OVERALL CONTROL OF THE PROVINCE AND OF SCHOOL BOARDS, AND SCHOOL BOARDS DO MAKE SURE THAT THERE IS THAT TEACHER INTERACTION WITH KIDS. PART OF THE ONLINE LEARNING RIGHT NOW AND PART OF THE WAY IT WAS SET UP EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, IT DEFINITELY HAD TEACHERS IN REALTIME DELIVERING THAT EDUCATION. SO, YES, YOU KNOW, THE MICHIGAN MODEL SOUNDS GREAT. AND, AGAIN, IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE'RE LEARNING FROM THIS THAT AND WE ARE SUPPORTING KIDS TO DO SOME OF THEIR LEARNING, WHEN APPROPRIATE, ONLINE. BUT JUST CHANGING THE WHOLE SYSTEM SO SUDDENLY SEEMS, AGAIN, INCREDIBLY PROBLEMATIC.

Steve says CAROLINE, I'M DOWN TO MY LAST 30 SECONDS HERE AND I WANT TO GO COMPLETELY OFF-SCRIPT AND ASK SOMETHING UNRELATED TO EVERYTHING WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT, WHICH IS, THE VARIANTS OF CONCERN ARE A CONCERN. AND THERE ARE OUTBREAKS IN MORE SCHOOLS RIGHT NOW THAN I THINK AT ANY POINT DURING THIS PANDEMIC. WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT THE NEED TO SHUT THE WHOLE SYSTEM DOWN RIGHT NOW?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda; agendaconnect@tvo.org."

Caroline says WELL, I MEAN, IF YOU LOOK ON SOCIAL MEDIA, DOCTORS, TEACHERS, THEY'RE ALL CALLING FOR A SYSTEM BREAK, THE SYSTEM TEMPORARILY TO SHUT DOWN. WE HEARD FROM PEEL'S MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH THAT THEIR SCHOOLS ARE GOING ONLINE FOUR DAYS. THUNDER BAY AND SUDBURY, THEIR SCHOOLS ARE STILL CLOSED. THEY'VE BEEN CLOSED SINCE MID-MARCH. THEY CONTINUE TO BE CLOSED AND KIDS ARE LEARNING ONLINE. IN TORONTO YESTERDAY WE HAD 20 SCHOOLS THAT ARE CLOSED BECAUSE OF INVESTIGATIONS HAPPENING BY TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH. THERE IS PARENTS I'VE BEEN SPEAKING WITH WHO IS HAVE BEEN EMAILING ME HAVE BEEN PULLING THEIR KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL, THE ONES THAT CAN DO SO, AND THERE ARE CALLS FROM ALL SECTORS TO KEEP KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL FOR A TEMPORARY PERIOD OF TIME, AT LEAST UNTIL THE END OF THE APRIL BREAK.

The caption changes to "Producer: Meredith Martin, @MeredithMartin."

Steve says I HEAR YOU. TO BE CONTINUED. I WANT TO THANK THE THREE OF YOU FOR JOINING US ON TVO TONIGHT FOR A SCINTILLATING TOPIC. CAROLINE ALPHONSO, ANNIE KIDDER, MICHAEL BARBOUR. STAY SAFE OUT THERE, EVERYONE.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

All the guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Ontario's Online Learning Future