Haliburton Highlands Secondary School teacher Mary Cannon is one of many parents expecting to be spending more time with her kids in the coming weeks.

A mother of four school-age children, she is faced with them getting an extra twoweek break from classes after March break due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario schools are closed until at least April 5.

“My kids will miss their friends and teachers. I am concerned about the skills, building block skills, especially in subjects like math, that they will miss,” Cannon said.

But she is working to make the most of it. She plans to have her kids – in Grades 1, 3, 4, and 5 – read, go through workbooks and write creatively.

However, there are challenges with teaching kids in a situation like this, Cannon said.

“For most parents, the hurdles will be a new version of the same problem they usually have – balancing work and parenting responsibilities,” she said. “Whether you are trying to work from home or scrambling to put together childcare options, putting together an academic program on top of that will be a challenge.”

But childcare options have also been limited. Daycares in Minden and Haliburton both decided to shut doors before a provincial directive came down March 17, closing all daycares until the end of the month.

Haliburton Wee Care is closing until at least April 5 over concerns about spreading the coronavirus and health guidelines to practice social distancing. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make,” supervisor Denise Wolm said. “Parents still need (child) care but the problem is, we’re in a daycare, we have people coming and going.”

Wolm said parents are finding other ways to get by.

“Some of them are able to work from home and have their children at home with them. Others have backup plans, other family members or grandparents, friends,” she said.

“Everybody needs to help each other.” There is no certainty for public school students about when classes will resume and how it will impact the school year.

Grade 11 student Logan Heaven said there are unanswered questions.

“Initially, it’s like a vacation, but then we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Heaven said. “It’s a little stressful.”

Regardless of how long the break lasts, Cannon said she wants to find some positives in the chance to be with her children.

“This is a rare opportunity for us to spend time together as a family and I don’t want to get so scheduled and worked up about curriculum expectations that I don’t make the most of that.”

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