Dufferin-Peel Catholic board second in GTA to merge online, in-person elementary classes

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board is mirroring its counterpart in York Region by combining students learning virtually and in-person into one classroom.

Changes will begin Nov. 2, board's letter to parents says

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board will start combining in-person and virtual classes next month as more parents enrol their children in online classes due to a surge in novel coronavirus cases in the GTA. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says it will combine elementary students learning virtually with those learning in-person, rather than continue with online classrooms that exist separately from their own school communities. 

The reorganization comes as more parents move their children to virtual learning following weeks of surging novel coronavirus cases in the Toronto area. It follows a similar move announced Wednesday by the York Region Catholic District School Board, which said it will begin combining online and in-person classes Oct. 13.

All elementary students in the Dufferin-Peel Catholic board attending classes online will continue to learn remotely, but will rejoin their peers studying in-person under the same home-school umbrella, the board announced in a letter to parents Friday. The adjustments will begin on Nov. 2, the board said in the notice. 

"Students who have chosen to attend school face-to-face will now be learning with their face-to-face
classmates and with the students who are at home learning remotely," said Marianne Mazzorato, director of education for the board, in the letter. 

Children learning online will be placed in classes with students and teachers from their home school, she said.

"This change is necessary to ensure all students have access to the programs offered in the DPCDSB and to provide flexibility regarding learning modes in this time of uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic," she said. 

As a result of the new classrooms, parents can transition their child from in-person to remote learning at anytime, instead of waiting for prescribed dates the board had outlined previously, Mazzorato explained. 

The need to create more flexibility for parents to decide to switch learning environments comes as "a significant number" of families continue to opt for online learning as the school year goes on, she said. 

She conceded that classrooms would have to be reorganized regardless to keep up with the amount of parents who want to place their children in virtual schooling and to match overall "staffing ratios" within the board. 

Parents should expect their child may be assigned to another class or teacher when the changes occur, Mazzorato said.