National teacher survey reveals all is not well in education during time of COVID-19

Sask Bulletin
September 15, 2020

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation pandemic survey provides a look into how the closure of school buildings and an emergency transition to distance and online learning have affected teachers and students in every province and territory.

The responses, from nearly 18,000 teachers from coast to coast to coast, show how current solutions are potentially detrimental to health, safety and learning. 

“We have vulnerable students who have challenging home lives,” reads one submission. “For some of our students, school is their safe place and where their connections are to feel safe and secure.”

One teacher shared that they “worry about students’ well-being when they never, or seldom, connect on line,” while another said that “the current model only widens the gap between the haves and have-nots.” 

Responding to open and closed questions, teachers shared the reality of teaching and learning since school buildings were closed in March 2020. The findings make it clear that distance and online learning have not only led to a fall in quality education, but have also revealed existing inequities and posed other challenges on teachers, students and families. 

The survey confirmed several of the main concerns teachers are grappling with in anticipating a return to their respective classrooms.

  • 74 percent are concerned with the mental health and well-being of their students.
  • 73 percent have concerns or questions about getting their students what they need to be successful with online instruction.
  • 44 percent state that they have concerns with their mental health and well-being.

Of the teachers who responded to open-ended questions:

  • 92 percent say that access to technology and learning materials was a barrier to equitable quality public education.
  • 89 percent report concerns about student emotional health. Educators note that students are isolated and missing social connections with their classmates and schools, and they are concerned with students returning to school after a period of detachment.
  • 99 percent have concerns about the return to school buildings. They discussed anxieties around not knowing the plans, adding that constant changes from ministries of education, without proper time and supports to adapt, have taken a toll on their mental health and well-being.

With the participation of the CTF/FCE’s 18 member organizations, the survey was completed in English and French between June 1 and June 18 and sought to capture the experiences and observations of the teaching profession during the pandemic.