Published Monday, September 14, 2020 4:26PM EDT
The start of the virtual school year was initially supposed to coincide with the beginning of in-person instruction on Sept. 15 but last week the board announced that it would be pushed back by two days in order to give staff more time to finalize timetables and ensure that there will be enough teachers.
On Monday, however, the board announced another delay, this one pushing the start of classes for students learning remotely to Sept. 22.
In a letter to parents, the TDSB’s Interim Director of Education Carlene Jackson said that the latest delay is a result of an additional 6,000 students opting to learn remotely over the last week.
She said that the increase in enrollment brings the total number of students learning virtually to more than 72,000, creating the need for an additional 200 teachers.
“We had hoped that our first communication with virtual school parents/guardians would have been under different circumstances, however it became clear over the weekend, especially with increasing numbers, staffing a virtual school of this size — larger than the total enrolment of most school boards in Ontario — was not going to be possible in time for Thursday and we wanted to inform you right way,” Jackson wrote.
Jackson said that the further postponement of the virtual school year will “allow time to finish the staffing and timetabling process.”
She said that it will also give students and their families more time to familiarize themselves with the online learning platform they will be utilizing this academic year.
“I want to thank you for your patience as we move through this process. I know the waiting is not easy, but this additional time will allow us to better prepare for your children’s return to school,” she wrote.
The TDSB has previously indicated that about 70 per cent of its students opted to return to the classroom fulltime this academic year while the rest chose virtual learning instead. Those numbers have likely changed as a result of the roughly 6,000 additional students who switched to online learning over the last week.
Some TDSB elementary students will begin to return to classrooms tomorrow as part of a staggered start. Secondary school students won’t begin to return until Thursday.