Toronto

School boards in Ontario proactively prepare in case of switch to remote learning

Several school boards in Ontario are asking students to take home their personal belongings and electronic devices as they prepare for the possibility of a switch to remote learning in the new year.

TDSB tells parents that children should bring home all personal belongings

Members of a kindergarten class at King Edward Junior and Senior Public School in Toronto are pictured here on Feb. 25, 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Several school boards in Ontario are asking students to take home their personal belongings and electronic devices as they prepare for the possibility of a switch to remote learning in the new year.

The Toronto District School Board told families Wednesday it hasn't received any indication from the Ministry of Education that schools will close, but it wants to make sure it can make a transition "smoothly and efficiently."

"As we prepare for the winter break, we are of course looking ahead to the new year and what learning may look like as we return to school in January," the TDSB said.

"As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Toronto, so too does the possibility of individual classes or schools moving to remote learning for a period of time."

The Waterloo Region District School Board issued a similar memo, saying its staff have prepared schools to "ensure a smooth transition, if required."

"Given the rise in cases and our concerns for the health of staff, students and their families, the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) is proactively preparing for the possibility of a move to a remote learning scenario in the new year," the WRDSB said.

In its winter break message, the York Region District School Board said it's "working on the plan that schools will reopen in January," but is "prepared to move to virtual learning if that announcement is made."

The Peel Region District School Board said it anticipates and is "hopeful that learning will resume in person and online when classes resume in January," but is also taking precautionary steps in case of a switch to online learning.

"We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work together to keep our students, staff and community safe," the school board told families.

In a social media post, the Greater Essex County District School Board said between now and Dec. 17, "everyone is being asked to take home personal items and any resources needed in case we are instructed to shift to online learning for a period of time after the Christmas Break. This action has not been confirmed."

The other school boards are also asking families to remind their children to take home their personal belongings and any devices they might need to pivot to remote learning.

At a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, Ontario's chief medical officer of health said he hopes to keep schools open "as long as we can," with protocols being reviewed to make schools safer.

Dr. Kieran Moore also said that he still considers schools safe.

Ontario reported 1,808 cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths from the virus on Wednesday. Provincial data shows that of the new cases, 384 are school-related.

As of Wednesday, 1,094 schools had at least one reported COVID-19 case and 47 schools were closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks or operational considerations.

The provincial government is also providing students with a set of five rapid antigen COVID-19 tests as they head into the winter break.

now