Let my pupil go | Marcel Strigberger
Friday, June 05, 2020 @ 2:50 PM | By Marcel Strigberger
I doubt we’ll see any special interest groups taking on this one and issuing a court application to compel the Ontario government to reverse its decision to keep schools closed till September in the wake of the current COVID-19 threat. Then again, is any litigation in the law world surprising anymore?
It would not amaze me to see a court application by some kids and civil liberties organizations to reopen schools now. I can see a number of arguments to support this move. I see no problem arguing school closures are a breach of rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
True, there is some online schooling taking place, but it is not the same. The kids are all missing out on crucial activities which cannot be achieved by home online classes.
Let’s start with just getting to school. Firstly, there is the school bus for many. It is an immeasurable delight to have that yellow ubiquitous vehicle pull up near your house and stop for you. The kids know they’re special as the bus whips open that stop sign and engages the red flashing lights, holding up all vehicular traffic while they leisurely crawl aboard. We adults don’t enjoy this pleasure standing at a bus stop trying to catch a public transit vehicle. The bus generally pulls over into a bus bay allowing passing traffic to proceed uninterrupted. We miss those passing drivers’ squirms.
How do you replicate this luxury while at home? It’s just not the same as you walk to your computer, having your mom or dad hold up a stop sign as your little sister or brother want to pass you.
By messing around with school buses, I see a Charter breach of the right to mobility. Hands down.
Then there are other joys of school, such as recess. I recall the positive charge we all got as kids when that recess bell sounded. We would all pile out of the classroom, in twos, out to the school yard where we would spend about 15 minutes playing games such as touch football or tag. I know what you’re thinking. Social distancing? No problem. The kids can still enjoy these games using props such as those foam swimming noodles. They’re about two metres long.
Or they could play hide and seek. I see no problem with social distancing as long as the guy who is “it” never finds the others. Maybe they can all hide in a couple of parked school buses. They would of course have to duck under the benches, a couple of rows apart.
Again, you cannot have a real recess at home. What if the kid is an only child? How does he or she play tag? I see a clear Charter breach of the right to equality. A winner for sure.
Then we come to detentions. No kid wants to be detained but at least whoever gets a detention in school, they at least get to spend this time in the detention room, with other fellow culprits.
If a parent wishes to ground a chid, mom or dad will send him or her to their room. That in most cases is also the kid’s home study room. How is that fair? Tell me that does not violate the Charter’s provision against cruel and unusual punishment. The kids’ court application is a cinch.
And let us not forget summer vacations. Isn’t this the highlight for all students? By not going back to school from mid-May until September, there is no traditional clear summer break at the end of the school term. The kids are deprived from chanting that traditional end of June rhyme, saying, “No more pencils no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.” It’s just not the same trying to sing it in May. I see an obvious denial of the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of expression. Done deal.
We all hope all of this passes quickly and safely. Meanwhile the kids should all stay healthy. It’s a good time to eat those apples to keep the doctor away. After all, for a while, they won’t be giving them to the teachers.
Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit www.marcelshumour.com.
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