How do we navigate a return to school and childcare?

First Policy Response

Year: 2020

One of the biggest differences between the COVID-19 pandemic and past crises is that this time, the kids are at home. With schools and childcare centres shut down to prevent the spread of the virus, parents and caregivers have had to find ways to keep their children supervised and educated while simultaneously trying to maintain their own livelihoods — and mental health. The effects of this have been profound for Canadian families of all kinds. After months of life under COVID-19, the consensus is clear: we can’t go on like this.

But where do we go from here? How do we get children back to childcare centres and classrooms in a way that supports students and children, educators and childcare workers, public health and the Canadian economy as a whole?

First Policy Response reached out to experts in education, childcare, economics and public health with one question: “What is the most important thing to consider when reopening schools and childcare?”

This resource features the following insights:

  • Anna Banerji: We can minimize health risks without keeping all kids at home
  • Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant: Labour force gender gaps are in danger of widening
  • Tesfai Mengesha: We need to bring an equity lens to the reopening of schools
  • Jeffrey Schiffer: Access to greenspace can mitigate COVID-19 closures for Indigenous children and youth
  • Annie Kidder: Crisis has amplified differences in families’ capacities to support children
  • Medeana Moussa: Schools must have adequate funding to keep students healthy
  • Liz Stuart: Teachers need proper tools to support student learning and wellbeing
  • Charles E. Pascal: Going back to school requires focus on students’ mental health
  • Konrad Glogowski: Focus on community partnerships and data collection to support students’ wellbeing
  • Corinne Payne: Parents need more support and clear communication with schools
  • Harvey Bischof: Teachers’ professional judgment is key to supporting students
  • Natalie Sadowski: What school reopening looked like in Vancouver
  • Linda White: We need to better value and regulate care work
  • Carolyn Ferns and Alana Powell: Public investment is needed to build an early learning and childcare system
  • Brian Dijkema: Diverse families require diverse childcare alternatives
  • Amanda Munday: Support small businesses to develop safe childcare options
  • Petr Varmuza: Open classrooms this summer for early learning for our most vulnerable children
  • Anneke Van den Berg and Shawna Vander Velden: All families deserve the opportunity to advocate for their mental safety