In an update Friday afternoon, the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) has announced full remote learning will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 16 for elementary students and on Thursday, Sept. 17 for high school students.
The remote learning option is among numerous changes to the 2020-21 school year resulting from the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement comes days after the board reported that parents and guardians of more than 1,000 students had made the last-minute switch from in-class to full-time remote learning, resulting in “significant reorganization.”
“When those students leave our classes, they leave gaps in our classrooms and they need teachers to teach them,” said superintendent of student achievement Paul Sydor.
“What we’ve done in the last number of weeks, and in this week in particular, is usually a task that takes our school system three months to do.”
The board says the families “may access resources to support independent learning for Sept. 14 to 16” if they choose to, and offered links to resources from the Ontario government based on groupings of grades.
“Establishing an online learning environment for all grade levels is a complex and extensive task, involving different departments across the Board. We are also working to deploy student devices that have been requested this week,” a notice from the board read.
“We are committed to providing our students with a high-quality fully remote learning program which requires us to ensure that we have qualified teachers and Early Childhood Educators in place for our classes. We are continuing the process of hiring additional teachers to support the 13,172 students enrolled in our Full Remote Learning Program while balancing the staffing needs of our students who will participate in In-Person learning next week.”
Sydor added that the hiring process should be completed by the time online classes start.
The board also notes that due to the staggered-start approach, students in both in-person and full remote learning will end up having “an equal number of instructional days.”
Sydor says staff are now applying the final touches as they prepares for a return to class that adheres to current health guidelines. Those preparations include numerous renovations in order to encourage physical distancing.
“Our schools are ready, our staff are ready and our buildings are looking to forward to welcoming kids back to school,” Sydor said.
“It’s what what we do and it’s what we’ve been missing ever since March.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.