Home Schooling

School at home: the cantons want to reduce the pressure

“I’m at the bottom of the tank. My son has 25 worksheets or exercises this week. He’s been there on the same file for an hour…” “My child’s teacher said that school will probably start again on the 27th of April and that the assessment will be on the 27th or 28th…” “Some imagine that is enough to he handed us the stuff to pull out our superhero cape and become a teacher with the snap of our fingers. Besides our work…”

Over the past few days, the Facebook page “Enseignants Romands COVID-19” has been flooded with comments from angry or disillusioned parents. The site, which has more than 5,600 members, mainly allows teachers to exchange all kinds of advice on textbooks, simple homework, making video capsules or organizing teleconferences.

Read our editorial: The school has to slow down in the face of the coronavirus

This Facebook page is a joyous catch that shows the great enthusiasm and ingenuity of many teachers. Some teachers see it as “general chaos”. “Many have been very – too – quick to look for solutions for absolutes go to school as usual from the first day, the teacher from Vaud testifies. Back then, there was no official instrument and no way of coordinating things was known and controlled.

Families were quickly overwhelmed. “Parents who have several children were given a lot of work, ways of doing things, channels of communication so varied and diverse that it was impossible to manage,” notes the same teacher.

A “call for calm” was launched.

The President of the Union of Roman Teachers (SER), Samuel Rohrbach from Jura, admits that the “feedback from the field” is confusing, despite the strong commitment of all. He cites the problems: “Servers are overloaded, some children have both parents who work remotely and cannot monitor, too many students do not have access to computer equipment, computers or printers.” For the unionist, “we have to get out of the idea that we can go to school normally and adapt the system speed”. And put forward this recommendation: “We need to focus on the really essential points of the program and the consolidation of the results achieved.”

In the cantons, several trade unions have already launched a “call for calm”, to use the title of a recent press release of the Vaud Society of Secondary Teachers (SVMS), and these calls do not come only from the teaching world. Socialist Grégory Jaquet, representative of the Grand Council of Neuchâtel, was one of the first to speak out publicly. “We know it will take a long time and that we will be trapped, that companies will melt, that workers will rust, I suggest that we stop pretending that parents can completely replace the school in a time of acute crisis,” he wrote on the 19th on social networks.

“My position was more of a father of three children than a politician,” explains Grégory Jaquet today. The socialist is particularly concerned about the “gap that is created every day” between children who are lucky enough to have parents who fight for them and those who have learning difficulties or live in troubled families.’

Read also: Schools could remain closed until the summer holidays

In recent days, in the face of all these concerns, the authorities have begun to react. The Department of Education, Youth and Culture (DFJC) of the canton of Vaud announced on Tuesday a series of measures to adapt home education. “Over time, we have to reduce the pressure on families and take care of the relationship with parents,” insists state councilor Cesla Amarelle. If during the first days the socialist rejects the reproach of “general chaos”, she recognizes “a certain fluctuation”. “We sent over 100,000 students home that night,” he recalls.

All ratings banned

Among the measures taken, the DFJC decided to ban any assessment during incarceration. Cantonal Reference Tests (ECR) are abolished. Promotion and orientation criteria will be modified. The program will also be adapted. “We don’t have the resources to teach new subjects,” notes Giancarlo Valceschini, general director of compulsory education in Vaud, and therefore calls on teachers to prioritize revisions.

Neuchâtel was one of the first cantons to adopt directives in this direction, in particular by limiting the number of working hours per day: one hour in the 1st cycle (1st-4th), two hours in the 2nd cycle (5th-8th) and three hours in the 3rd cycle (9-11).

“We started too hard,” admits state councilor Monika Maire-Hefti, responsible for the Ministry of Education and Family. But faced with a situation we had not yet experienced, we did not have the necessary perspective. The socialist, like her colleague from Vaud, insists on the need to reduce the pressure on teachers, children and their families: “Three quarters of the school year are over, in this period of closure we must focus on revisions and consolidation of achievements. We’ll catch up when the crisis is over.”

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