TDSB asks schools to prepare for shift to online learning

Dozens of schools in Toronto and Peel have moved to online learning as COVID-19 cases increase. As Shauna Hunt reports, some unions are now pushing for a temporary return to virtual learning at all schools.

By Michael Ranger

With more Toronto schools closing their doors amid COVID-19 outbreaks, the country’s largest school board is advising staff at all schools to be ready for a possible switch to online learning.

In an email sent to all principals and vice-principals on Monday morning, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) asked the schools to be prepared to make the switch if any classes or schools need to be shut down.

Ryan Bird, a spokesperson for the TDSB, said it was essentially a heads-up for staff to ensure the transition is smooth for students.

“We are reminding our schools of what we’ve been saying since the beginning of the year,” Bird said. “We really do have to be prepared to flip to remote learning.”

The Toronto Catholic District School Board announced Monday night it was temporarily shutting down two of its schools due to COVID-19.

The board said that St. Eugene Catholic School in Etobicoke and St. Roch Catholic School in North York closed their doors due to outbreaks.

This followed the news on Sunday night that Toronto Public Health (TPH) recommended the closure of three Toronto schools, which went into effect on Monday.

TPH recommended the temporary dismissal of all students at St. Dominic Savio Catholic School in Scarborough and at North York’s Brian Public School and Victoria Village Public School.

RELATED: Delayed March break still a go despite spike in cases: Lecce

In an email to 680 NEWS, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, Dr. Vinita Dubey, said investigations are underway at the three schools and the closures are connected to variants of concern (VOCs).

Meanwhile, teachers and families are waiting to find out, whether the re-scheduled spring break will have to be delayed further.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the delayed March break is still scheduled to happen on April 12 despite the fact that COVID-19 cases are higher now than they were when the break was initially delayed.

The government’s reasoning for pausing the original March break was to prevent families from travelling around the province and potentially bringing back the virus into classrooms.

“These rising numbers obviously pose a challenge to the province so will seek his perspective and make sure it gets communicated if anything changes, but right now we’re proceeding,” Lecce said.

Doug Ford said Monday that parents and students should know by the end of this week whether or not the delayed break will be moved once again.

“I don’t want to predict two weeks out,” Ford said. “I agree 100 percent that they need the two weeks. We’re seeing the numbers going up at a rapid speed right now. By the end of the week we’ll have a clear direction that will still give people at least a week to 10 days notice.”

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