The COVID-19 pandemic has been an especially challenging time for parents. For parents who are divorced or separated, many additional complications have been added into what may be an already stressful time. One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen is parents who have different perspectives on what form of education would be best for their kids. In a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the court was asked to determine which out of three schools would be most appropriate for the child.
Parents agree on one school
The parents were married on July 10, 2010, and had their son in November 2015. They separated in October 2018. This year the child was scheduled to begin Kindergarten and the parents began to discuss where he would go to school. They agreed in May 2020 that he would attend a school referred to in the decision as “Manor Park.” This school was agreed upon mainly on the basis that it is located next to the daycare the child attended.
Despite the father agreeing that Manor Park was a good choice, he also stated that another school (“Robert Hopkins”) would be a good choice. The mother told the father she would look at Robert Hopkins as a possible school.
Each parent attempts to enroll the child in a different school than what was agreed upon
Despite the parents agreeing that the child would be registered at Manor Park, the father decided to register him at Robert Hopkins in order to ensure a spot would be available should it be selected. However, the school told the father that the child was already enrolled at Manor Park.
In June 2020, the mother was forced to move. She registered the child at Manor Park in August of that year. However, she canceled his registration the next day, and instead registered him to attend kindergarten online at a third school, referred to as “Knoxdale.” Classes at Knoxdale were scheduled to be online-only this year. The father only found out about this switch after calling Manor Park on September 1, at which time the school advised him about the change.
Mother wants online learning
The mother told the court that she was concerned about the child’s health. He has a respiratory issue which puts him in a high-risk category for COVID-19. Additionally, she told the court that the child has difficulty using the bathroom due to the medicine he takes and can avoid embarrassment by learning at home during his first year at school.
Meanwhile, the father argued that the child would benefit from in-person learning because he would have the chance to interact with other students. He also said that he was concerned online learning required too much screen time and was detrimental to the child.
The court found balance by determining that the child’s health risks outweighed the benefit of in-person learning, but that by next year he should be ready to attend his second year of kindergarten in-person. The court also found it would be disruptive to make the child change schools in the middle of the school year.
As a result, the court found it would be in the child’s best interest to stay enrolled in Knoxdale for the remainder of the school year, and to attend Robert Hopkins in September 2021.
To speak with an experienced Windsor family lawyer about child custody or support, call 519.973.1500, get started now or contact us online. Many of our clients are referred to us by former and current clients, and also by lawyers, counsellors and other professionals.