At least 2,200 more students in Hamilton choose online learning

At least 2,000 more elementary students in Hamilton's public school board are now enrolled virtual schooling right before all students are set to start classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roughly 13.5K students in Hamilton opting for virtual school over in-person learning

Two children spent the first day of virtual school with Ottawa's Catholic school board waiting to log on. In Hamilton, thousands of students are moving to virtual schooling. (Chandra Pasma)

At least 2,200 more elementary students in Hamilton's school boards are now enrolled in virtual schooling, right before all students are set to start classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shawn McKillop, spokesperson for the public board, said the increase of 2,000 students since Aug. 31 in virtual schooling has meant that 73 teachers joined the virtual schools. That means there are 8,300 students learning virtually in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

The Catholic board has seen roughly 200 more elementary students enter virtual schooling since Sept. 4, bringing its total number to 3,522 as of Friday. There are also 1,696 high school students in Catholic virtual schools as of Friday, slightly lower than the 1,717 enrolled on Sept. 4

Pat Daly, chairperson of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, explained the increase isn't necessarily students switching from in-person to online learning and could be those who didn't indicate their preference earlier.

But many families have also expressed a lack of confidence in the reopening plans.

This comes as both boards ease into Wednesday, when all students are set to return to school. The past few weeks have been full of sudden changes for educators, parents and students.

More than 900 parents, educators and students reached out to CBC with concerns about the reopening plan. Many of them explained why they chose virtual learning. Most expressed fears for their safety and health.

"Not going back because of fear of bullies and the anxiety that comes with it," read a comment from a student in the public school board.

Another comment read: "I have a child with Down Syndrome. He is susceptible to respiratory infection. Not a chance I am risking his life in this environment."

Others cited a lack of information on outbreak plans and how to keep children away from each other.

Still, many have complained virtual learning isn't a viable option.

"You want me to offer cutting edge on line material with a 2007 Lenovo laptop that your own IT department has deemed garbage and won't repair and you are unwilling to repair," read a rant from an educator in the Halton District School Board.

Others said they don't have the technology or enough information to do online or virtual learning and some are still struggling to access the public school board's Parent Portal that has been plagued with issues.

Attention parents, students and teachers: We want to hear from you!

We hope you'll use this form to tell us about school conditions, how classes are going or whatever other pressing issues are on your mind this September in Hamilton, Niagara, St. Catharines and Burlington.


Bobby Hristova


Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca


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