TORONTO — The Toronto District school Board says that around 7,500 students will be switching from in class learning to virtual learning following a recent opportunity for parents to make the change.
“We have got the final numbers, and it would appear that around 7,500 people have made the request to go from in-person learning to virtual but at the same time about 3,000 are going from virtual into in-person learning,” TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told CP24 on Friday. “So while yes, there are more going into the virtual stream, we do have a considerable amount coming back to the bricks and mortar buildings, if you will, at this point in time.”
Parents had until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to make the switch for their children.
The numbers mean that for the time being there will be some 4,500 more children learning remotely than at the start of the school year.
Bird said it will take about two weeks for the TDSB to make the necessary staffing changes before kids can switch.
The switch to virtual learning for thousands more children comes as the province sees a huge spike in COVID-19 cases as part of a second wave of the virus currently sweeping through Ontario.
Ontario health officials reported a record number of 732 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and according to the TDSB, 81 schools are currently dealing with at least one active case of the virus.
Students who are attending in-person classes are required to conduct daily self-assessments for COVID-19 before going to class.
Health officials issued new guidance to parents this week to help them better distinguish between when children need a Covid test, and when they simply have to stay home for a day with a runny nose.
The revised guidance comes as parents, health officials and the school board try to balance the need to continue learning with hyper vigilance around the spread of COVID-19.
The next opportunity for parents to make the switch will be in mid-October. Changes made at that deadline will take effect in November.
Bird said that while the TDSB is trying to be flexible in allowing parents to switch their kids, the school board is limited by the logistics around properly staffing classrooms and other considerations in terms of how often they can do so.
“As we’ve said from the beginning, there will only be set times during the year where people can make that switch and that’s because we just can’t keep the door open the entire time because we can’t staff if the numbers are constantly changing.”
Some online students remain without teachers
In a statement posted on its website, the TDSB said Friday that teachers have been assigned to more than 94 per cent of elementary students attending its virtual school.
The board said last week that it aimed to have instructors for all virtual students by the end of this week.
“Earlier this week, we were optimistic that all classes would be assigned a teacher by today and that has not happened,” the board said in a statement.
“For those students and families without a teacher since Virtual School began on September 22, we know how disappointing this has been.”
The board apologized to students and families for the continuing delay, saying that it is “everything possible to continue to place teachers so that learning can begin.”
The TDSB said the teacher shortage for its remote learning following the surge in demand due to rising COVID-19 infections.
Meanwhile, the board noted that several teacher resignations have caused a small number of English classrooms to be without an instructor.
“Earlier this week, all English classrooms had been assigned a teacher. Unfortunately, a small number of classrooms are once again without a teacher in place due to resignations. In these cases, we are working to replace the teacher.”
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