Toronto

TDSB asks province to reassess plans for school in the fall amid COVID-19

The Toronto District School Board is asking the province to reassess its plans for school in the fall — especially when it comes to the government’s “hybrid” model, which the board says would force parents to choose between their jobs and educating their kids.

Board says province’s ‘hybrid’ schooling plan will force parents to choose between work and their kids

The Toronto District School Board is asking the province to rethink some of its plans for school in the fall. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is asking the province to reassess its plans for school in the fall — especially when it comes to the government's "hybrid" model, which the board says would force parents to choose between their jobs and educating their kids.

At a special board meeting Thursday evening, trustees voted to call on the province to "strongly consider" working parents with young children, single parent households and low-income families in its plans amid COVID-19.

"We want to ensure that all students can return in September in the safest way possible, but we must also recognize that if the Ministry of Education does not permit them to return every day, it will put many of the families of 247,000 TDSB students in a very difficult position — not to mention the families of thousands of TDSB staff," said board chair Robin Pilkey in a statement.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce outlined the province's plan for students' return to school in September last month.

He laid out three options that boards should prepare for — one being an adapted delivery model, which blends in-class with online learning, and would see students alternating being in class by days or weeks.

Lecce said in that situation, class sizes wouldn't exceed 15 students in class at a time.

At a provincial news conference Friday, Lecce said the province "stands ready to work with" school boards moving heading into September. He also said the province wants to be "ready for every circumstance and every challenge.

"The best way forward is to be ready for the three options we laid out," he said.

Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has said that the return to school in September will be "voluntary and based on parent choice." (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

According to a news release, TDSB trustees are calling on the province to provide emergency funding for the "development of a larger and more robust staffing plan to accommodate getting as many students as possible, as soon as possible, back into physical schools/spaces."

The school board would also want to use that funding to go toward personal protective equipment, transportation, IT devices, mental-health services and cleaning supplies.

The TDSB is also asking the province to delay the implementation of its new math curriculum, which the province touted as a move "back to basics" when it was revealed last month.

The board said in a statement that the implementation of the new curriculum should be delayed until school operations are no longer affected by the pandemic.

"We recognize that the Ministry of Education has made a change to the math curriculum and expects it to be in place this September, but as students and staff — still dealing with pandemic-related issues — return to school, we want them to focus on this critical transition and not on learning a new way to do math," Pilkey said in a statement.

About the Author

Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

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