McAllister: ETFO’s remote learning claims misleading, inaccurate

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

BROCKVILLE – The chairman of the Upper Canada District School Board says claims from the elementary teachers’ union on remote learning are “misleading” and “inaccurate.”

John McAllister says he “cannot fathom why the communication shared by the teachers’ federation failed to acknowledge that the remote learning guidelines for privacy and security have been in place since May 2020,” in a open letter to parents Monday.

Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Upper Canada Local President Erin Blair claimed in a letter to parents Friday that live streaming is “hugely problematic” and “seriously flawed” on its face but also has privacy issues and has a “potential for inappropriate use” once the stream is out on the internet.

McAllister says live streaming is not like “reality TV programs” with cameras recording from every angle. It would be staff using their laptop computer with a video conferencing platform like Microsoft Teams with options for participants to be on video.

“Teachers will be able to place their laptop computer camera to face in the direction of their choosing. Children that cannot be videoed will not be,” McAllister wrote. Plus teachers also have to follow guidelines of the Ontario College of Teachers with respect to electronic communication.

The chairman suggests the timing of Blair’s letter is suspect, given it was sent out “just mere hours after senior administration from the board had briefed our union presidents about the current approach for delivering remote learning.”

He also noted that over 900 teachers were involved in learning sessions that involved video conferencing last week that was well in advance of professional development days for teachers, which start tomorrow.

A board survey earlier this month suggested about one-fifth of the student body preferred to be taught remotely.

The Upper Canada District School Board will have children back in the classroom on a staggered start, starting Sept. 11.