Child Ordered by Court to Return to In-Person Schooling
In the recent case of Chase v Chase, the Superior Court of Justice heard a matter in which the Applicant mother brought an urgent motion for sole decision-making ability with respect to the child’s education.
The mother sought an order that the child shall attend a specific school in-person starting in September and that the child was to be registered to do so prior. The Respondent father in the matter sought an order that the child remain at home until the school board’s safety protocols were proven successful and more certainty on the health and safety of children at school could be guaranteed. It is important to note that the child, nor anyone else in the immediate family, holds underlying health conditions.
The Court granted a temporary order that the child shall be registered and attend the school in-person when it opens in early September. In its ruling, the Court highlighted that the issue of parents disagreeing as to if a child should attend school in-person this year is, unfortunately, another battle ground arena where the child may become the prisoner of war (at 22).
The Court continued to recommend that the parties commence the school year with the child attending in-person and then reviewing the issue at Thanksgiving or another later date, in addition to consider implementing a hybrid-solution to the issue where the child attends in the morning and is remote in the afternoons.
The Court relied upon two cases stemming out of Quebec, namely Droit de la famille — 20682, 2020 QCCS 1547 and Droit de la famille — 20641, 2020 QCCS 1462. In its reasoning it stated that the decision to proceed with in-person school attendance was made in accordance with medical experts recommendations and fall within the purview of the Ontario government (at 42).
It was concluded that although the Ontario government cannot 100% guarantee the safety of children returning to school, it did outline that the risks of catching the virus for children are being balanced against their mental health, psychological, academic and social interests, as well as many parents’ need for childcare.