Your Thoughts on an Anxious and Uncertain Return to Classes

Two weeks ago, the Canada Letter looked at the impending return to school in most provinces. Since then, the federal government and teachers’ unions have been making adjustments to the plans as they figure out how to get students back in classrooms in the middle of a pandemic.

A large number of you took up my request in the earlier newsletter for your thoughts about the back-to-school plans in your parts of the country. I heard from parents, teachers and school board trustees. And with a few exceptions, most of you are anxious and find your province’s spending and plans inadequate.

Here are some of your comments, which have been edited for length and clarity:

Ontario should cancel first year kindergarten for the year. These young kids have never been to school and many have not been in a setting away from their parents. Yet we’re expecting these 3- and 4-year-olds to social distance. Really?

Lisa Lewis, kindergarten teacher, Keswick, Ontario

From a parent perspective, with a son entering 11th grade and a daughter in ninth grade, what is striking to me is how the schools aren’t regularly involving parents in the plans for what the school year will be like. This lack of communication began in mid-March at the start of the pandemic and school closures.

I think that the more we all acknowledge that we are all in this together, the better. This is why many families are so worried — we are feeling left out.

Judith Krajnak, St. Albert, Alberta

  • Ruth Fremson, a Times photographer, made her way to Point Roberts, Wash., a bit of the United States that is landlocked from the rest of that country by Canada. The pandemic has left its residents cut off from services in British Columbia, and this summer, without Canadian visitors and seasonal residents, its businesses are withering. Read: ‘I Am Stuck Until That Border Opens’: Marooned in Paradise

  • Dan Bilefsky reports that after a prominent statue of Sir. John A. Macdonald was toppled in downtown Montreal, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the action led to “blowback on social media — from people who said he did not speak out forcefully enough against the vandalism, and also from others who said he did not take a tough enough stance against Mr. Macdonald’s record.” Read: A Statue of Canada’s First Prime Minister Is Toppled, but Politicians Want It Restored

  • Salome Bey, “Canada’s first lady of the blues,” has died at the age of 86. In her obituary, Catherine Porter tells how Ms. Bey — as an actress, playwright and director — broke ground in theater opportunities for Black people in Canada. Read: Salome Bey, Soulful Singer, Actress and Playwright, Dies at 86

  • Stephen Smith writes that in the context of the pandemic, “the clustering and close-fought commotion of the N.H.L. playoffs might seem like the antithesis of best public health practices, a daily tutorial — a crash course — on how not to social distance.” Read: Hockey’s Fights and Handshakes? Not Exactly Socially Distant

  • A census by a team of geomorphologists at the University of Calgary found that melting glaciers are increasing the number of glacial lakes worldwide, and that their water volumes are rising. Read: Melting Glaciers Are Filling Unstable Lakes. And They’re Growing.


A native of Windsor, Ontario, Ian Austen was educated in Toronto, lives in Ottawa and has reported about Canada for The New York Times for the past 16 years. Follow him on Twitter at @ianrausten.


We’re eager to have your thoughts about this newsletter and events in Canada in general. Please send them to nytcanada@nytimes.com.

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