Canadian K-12 Schooling During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons and Reflections


  • Jessica Rizk University of Waterloo
  • Robert Gorbet University of Waterloo
  • Janice Aurini University of Waterloo
  • Allyson Stokes Memorial University
  • John McLevey University of Waterloo


COVID-19, education, schooling, remote learning, equity


The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented disruption to education and schooling at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Operating in a context of great uncertainty, education leaders were tasked with making key decisions with potentially far-reaching impacts on the educational and mental and physical health of students and families. Drawing on 9 cross-sectoral focus groups with school board administrators, representatives from education industry partners, and K-12 educational policy research organizations, this paper provides a historical record of the evolution of decision-making and points to promising lines of inquiry and lessons that can be learned from this moment in education. 

Author Biographies

Jessica Rizk, University of Waterloo

Dr. Rizk is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo. Her research specializes in sociology of education and technology and schooling. 

Robert Gorbet, University of Waterloo

Dr. Gorbet is an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo. Formally trained as an electrical engineer, his work spans from robotics, control systems, and technology art.  He is also a key member of Gorbet Design, a design firm and consultancy specializing in public interactive artwork and experiences.  

Allyson Stokes, Memorial University

Dr. Stokes is an Assistant Professor at Memorial University. Dr. Stokes’ research specializations include work, culture, inequality, and education. 

John McLevey, University of Waterloo

Dr. McLevey is an Associate Professor at the University of Waterloo. His work falls broadly under the umbrella of “computational social science,” with an emphasis on network analysis and applications of natural language processing / computational linguistics in the social sciences. 


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