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Parents frustrated about lack of online teachers

Last Updated Oct 1, 2020 at 5:04 pm EDT

As the month of October kicks off, many students living in the Greater Toronto Area who have opted to go to virtual school still don’t have a teacher.

In-person classes with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) began the third week of September with virtual school following the week after.

But Christina Dean’s eight-year-old son Noah, who goes to school in Toronto and was supposed to start classes on September 22, has yet to be assigned his Grade 3 English teacher.

Dean says the situation baffles her since she opted her son into online learning on time, back in August.

“The problem is I have no solution,” said Dean. “I can’t tell him when it’s going to happen because the school board keeps telling me literally every two to three days that they’re working on it.”

Her situation is not a unique one.

A quick glance on social media sites such as Twitter show parents venting their frustrations that include feeling helpless about lack of communications around when teachers will become available to their kids.

More than 60,000 elementary students within the TDSB are learning online this year and the board has had trouble keeping up with staffing. Multiple school boards in the GTA are having similar problems as more and more students choose virtual over in-person classes.

In the Halton District School Board, 30 per cent of elementary students are currently learning online. There, parents still have a couple more weeks to opt-in to online learning.

And in Peel, which is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases and has been deemed a virus hot spot, the school board is reporting that just under half of all elementary students are learning virtually.

Dean worries what the backlog in Toronto would look like if more students opt-in as the year progresses.

“If the schools shut down and everyone has to go to remote learning, are we going to be pushed back again?”

Both the TDSB and the Toronto Catholic School Board tell CityNews that students that don’t yet have an assigned teacher can join live learning sessions and follow along, and that recordings are also made of all the sessions.

As for Christina Dean’s situation, TDSB spokesperson, Ryan Bird, also tells CityNews in an email that all virtual English teachers have been hired but they need to be trained, which takes a couple of days.

Parents should hear from those teachers on Friday.