June 2, 2020
As educators adapt to remote teaching challenges and community organizations move towards online service delivery, OJEN is finding new ways to support our partners with meaningful justice education initiatives.
Support for Remote Teaching and Learning
New pages on our website highlight OJEN classroom resources that are well-suited for distance learning. OJEN staff have also curated a range of law-related teaching resources and interesting online features produced by other organizations. New resources are added weekly.
Although classroom and courthouse visits no longer take place, OJEN continues to facilitate virtual classroom visits by lawyers and judges.
Since early March, students across the province have been preparing for OBA-OJEN Competitive Mock Trial (OOCMT) tournaments. While we were not able to host OOCMT tournaments this spring, we were able recognize the hard work of teachers, students and volunteers by modifying and moving the activity online. Based on the facts of the OOCMT mock trial case, the OBA-OJEN Criminal Law Challenge invites students to submit opening and closing arguments. In preparing their arguments, students have access to an online message board and an “Ask a Lawyer” forum. They can also view a video resource of the witness examinations, filmed by lawyer volunteers. No winners will be chosen, but all submissions will receive feedback from OJEN volunteer lawyers and judges.
Responding to Community Needs
While we have suspended all in-person programming and activities throughout the province, we are in consultation with our program partners about their public legal education needs and remote program delivery options.
OJEN makes it a priority to respond quickly to community requests for information on current legal issues. After receiving several requests for clarification on the legal implications of the emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, OJEN responded with a webinar for Toronto youth workers. Delivered in partnership with Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY), the free webinar provided information about:
- City By-Laws and Provincial Regulations
- Enforcement and Penalties
- Disputing a ticket
Over 160 youth workers registered for the session. For those who were unable to attend, the recorded webinar is available online, on both the OJEN and JFCY websites.
Check www.ojen.ca regularly for current information about OJEN’s projects and activities.
OJEN school programs and support for teachers during COVID-19
April 1, 2020
With the announcement this week that schools in Ontario will not re-open until at least May, we are assessing how this will affect OJEN’s school-based programs in the foreseeable future.
OJEN will not proceed with any in-person, school-based events for the rest of the school year. This includes law symposiums, mock trial tournaments, and other justice education events we had planned until the end of June. The decision serves the best interests of our communities as we all do the best we can to manage the pandemic.
Many stakeholders across the province have put a great deal of effort into organizing these events. This includes local committees and volunteers who have worked to coordinate tournaments, develop materials, visit classrooms and coach students. It also includes the hundreds of young people who have been using our resources and the excellent teachers who guide them. We remain deeply appreciative of everyone’s effort, time and commitment and we look forward to working with you again when in-person programs resume in a safer climate.
OJEN remains committed to supporting teachers and students however we can during this difficult period. Our Educator Support department is still working full time. While it is not yet clear how educators will be working while maintaining social distancing, we will direct our resources according to the needs of teachers, once these are better understood. We are currently assessing which of our programs and resources are most conducive to online learning, but we will be guided by educators’ feedback and requests, which we welcome. In the meantime:
- School visits to local courthouses are suspended for the time being, but we may still be able to virtually connect classes with lawyers to speak about their work.
- Some OJEN classroom resources, such as our Steps to Justice workshops, are easily adapted for independent work or virtual classrooms.
- We are actively working to identify high-quality learning activities – both from OJEN and our partners – and will continue to share these with teachers.
- We strongly encourage everyone to make use of the excellent resources on Covid-19 and the law compiled by Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) on their Steps to Justice website.
March 13, 2020
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, OJEN has taken several measures as an organization to address the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers and others we come into contact with.
All OJEN staff are working from home. We remain available by email and will endeavor to answer phone messages promptly.
We have cancelled our annual Network Meeting of senior justice, education and community-building stakeholders.
All community-based programming is suspended throughout the province and work-related travel cancelled until at least mid-April. This includes all of our Youth-Police Dialogues, Steps to Justice workshops, and Family Law for Young Parents programs.
We have not cancelled any school-based programming or any programs scheduled to take place in early May, which includes mock trials. The decision not to cancel school-based programming has been made in order to leave programming decisions in the hands of school boards and educators.
OJEN acknowledges that the province’s decision to shut down schools for a two week period following the March break may impact OOCMT participants’ ability to prepare for the mock trials. As well, we recognize that the loss of instructional time may shift learning priorities in schools. Local OJEN committees are encouraged to consult with educators who participate in the program to decide whether hosting a mock trial tournament in their region is tenable.
Peel, Ottawa, and York Region committees have made the decision to cancel their tournaments this year. Other committees will make decisions after March Break or during the first week of April.
OJEN continues to monitor the situation, and we will communicate any changes through email, Twitter and the OJEN website. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to resuming our regular operations when it is safe to do so.
Looking for home study options? OJEN’s website offers over 200 online classroom resources on a wide variety of legal topics in English and French available to download free of charge anytime, anywhere.
Do you have questions about laws and regulations related to COVID-19? Community Legal Education Ontario’s (CLEO) Steps to Justice Website now offers information on critical changes to government or court services, supports, laws, and regulations as they relate to COVID-19 with links to the latest news updates.