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2 Toronto-area boards change online learning plans due to surge in demand

An elementary school student takes part in a virtual learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNSPLASH

Two Toronto-area school boards are changing their online learning plans, saying the moves will simplify the logistical nightmare presented by a growing number of students who want to avoid brick-and-mortar schools.

The Toronto District School Board on Friday delayed the next chance for elementary students to switch between online and in-class learning from November to January, while the Peel District School Board said it would switch its high schoolers to a “hybrid” model of learning that will see in-person students and their remote-learning peers taught lessons together.

Thousands of elementary students at the TDSB just switched between online and in-class learning earlier this week, following a Sept. 30 registration deadline, said spokesman Ryan Bird, forcing the province’s largest school board to completely rearrange classes and reassign teachers.

“This reorganization process literally slammed everything else in the board to an absolute halt while you have dozens of central staff working on this realignment, this reorganization alone,” he said. “And we realized a month after just doing it, we couldn’t then just do it again.”

Bird said the goal is to restore some “stability” to schools, after 7,500 elementary students went from learning in-class to learning remotely this month, while 3,000 students who had been learning from home moved to the classroom.

“This is about not only the stability for the system, but also the mental health and well-being of our students and staff. We didn’t want them changing a teacher one month in, and then another month in they have to change to another teacher,” he said.