Unhappy with your learning mode? Students can now make the switch
Parents have until Oct. 19 to make a switch for elementary school students
While the local teachers' union anticipates many parents will switch their kids to at-home learning, Windsor parent Lora Christensen is doing the opposite.
Christensen is transitioning her nine-year-old daughter from remote learning to in-person classes. But president of the local Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Mario Spagnuolo said he anticipates more parents will enrol their kids in online learning due to the growing number of cases in Ontario.
For Christensen, she wanted to wait until schools were better adjusted with safety protocols and procedures before sending her daughter in.
She says because her daughter is in French immersion, she believes she will learn better by physically attending classes.
"It's very difficult for her to learn French when she's not from a French speaking home," Christensen said.
"I'm kind of antsy in the sense that my daughter isn't learning as well as she would be if she was in school."
But, Christensen's decision seems to be an unpopular one, according to Spagnuolo.
"I think it's a really difficult decision for parents to make," he said. "We are noticing across the province, many parents are making the switch from in-person to virtual."
If schools do notice a surge in parents opting for online learning, he said they will have to "reorganize the system, which will mean in some cases, students will have new teachers and teachers will have new students."
"So we're concerned about that. We're going to be working with the school board to try to ensure as much stability as possible in the system because we think that would benefit everybody. But that is the reality of today, not knowing what the numbers are going to be," Spagnuolo said.
So far, he said, the school year has been bumpy with online classes dealing with technology issues. While he said he hopes the transition will be smooth for parents switching learning models, he anticipates it will be difficult because there is less time to prepare compared to the beginning of the school year.
"I think that's one of the reasons why the school board is asking for these numbers to come in advance a little bit earlier than they at first anticipated because it's going to require more time than, you know, than just a day or two," he said.
"It's going to take weeks to prepare and to organize the system."
Emelda Byrne, the executive superintendent of education of student achievement for the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB), thinks parents will be more comfortable with making a decision this time around.
"I think what helps for parents is that they've seen what schools look like for the past five weeks. You know, going back to the parent declaration in August, they weren't quite sure what schools would look like for September. And now they've seen schools in action for five weeks, both an online component or in -class component," she said.
Declaration forms available online
Parents whose children are part of the WECSBD and Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) can now apply online to make the transition.
The deadline for all public school students to declare if they are changing modes of learning is Oct. 19, according to the board's website.
The re-entry dates will be Nov. 9 for elementary students and Nov. 12 for secondary students.
Meanwhile, WECDSB elementary students have until Oct. 19 and secondary students have until Nov. 2 to declare a switch.
The re-entry dates are Nov. 2 for elementary students and Nov. 16 for secondary students.
Parents and guardians for both boards will have another opportunity to change the learning model for the school year in January.
Attention students, parents and teachers: We want to hear from you!
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