'No one's year will be jeopardized,' but school year could be extended

The Thames Valley District School Board is waiting for direction from the province on how teachers will deliver official online lessons, though education director Mark Fisher says they are expected to begin on April 6th.

TVDSB director of education Mark Fisher says the board is looking at different options

Thames Valley District School Board director of education Mark Fisher said he doesn't know if students will be able to return to class this year. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The Thames Valley District School Board hasn't decided if students will be able to return to the classroom this year.

"I'm hopeful that they'll reopen but this situation is so fluid and it changes virtually daily. It's really hard to know when and if schools will reopen this school year," said director of education Mark Fisher.

Nonetheless, Fisher is assuring students that they won't lose their year, especially those who are graduating.

"No one's year will be jeopardized," he said. "Accommodations will be made to ensure that every student who is scheduled to graduate, will graduate. They have waived the literacy test requirement for students that have been unable to meet that at this stage."

The board is looking at other options, too, he added.

"We will figure this out. Whether we extend the school year or whether we look at different alternatives."

And while students are out of class, Fisher said custodians have been deep cleaning the schools.

Laptops and iPads likely available for low-income students

Fisher said the province is offering online resources to students: literacy and numeracy help for elementary kids, and a number of courses are available through the ministry's website for secondary school students.

Mark Fisher took over as the director of education this past fall. (Submitted by TVDSB)

"I think we can anticipate that there will be a lot more active engagement between students and teachers starting on April 6th," Fisher said, adding that provincial labour leaders have been working with the union to outline what that will look like.

"We are waiting for direction from the ministry about what those expectations will be for teachers, in terms of their formal interactions with students for the period beyond April 5th," he said.

The board is also taking stock and cleaning all of its laptops and iPads, Fischer said, in the hopes of delivering them to students who need them.

"We have to be really careful from an equity perspective not to leave anyone behind during this crisis," he said.

"We're also looking at developing paper resources for students in those areas where Internet access is problematic."

About the Author

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.