Parents, educators rally to demand an end to TDSB’s hybrid in-person and virtual classes
Stock file. (Pexels)
TORONTO -- A number of parents and education workers are calling on the Toronto District School Board to stop hybrid classes and fully fund emergency virtual school for those learning online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concerned parents, students and teachers are organizing a rally at the school board’s headquarters Tuesday to present their petition, which calls for an end to situations where teachers are forced to preside over students learning in-person and online at the same time.
“We call on you to immediately honour your stated commitment that every student, either in-person or virtual, would have a dedicated teacher,” the online petition states. “Stop simultaneous learning and give students the dedicated teacher they deserve.”
The so-called hybrid classroom emerged as the preferred choice for some boards as the province shifted between online and in-person learning due to the COVID-19 situation during the last academic year.
However, some teachers, whose schools switched to hybrid classrooms last year, including some schools with the TDSB, say the model is stressful for educators and harmful for students’ learning, mental health, wellbeing and equity outcomes.
Some teachers said the model complicates learning for people in-person and online because it’s not tailored for either of the two cohorts.
In a news release just hours before the rally on Tuesday, Toronto Grade 12 student Shydharta Paul said she’s been finding hybrid learning difficult to navigate.
“Every day, I discover new obstacles about this learning model, which makes it harder for me to learn,” she said in a statement. “Labs and group work, presentations and class participation are all hindered for online students because of this hybrid learning model.”
The petition, signed already by more than 3,000 people, states that some school boards in Peel Region, Windsor-Essex and Waterloo have carried through with their commitment to fully virtual and fully online classrooms.
TDSB’s spokesperson Ryan Bird told CTV News Toronto that hybrid learning or simultaneous learning is taking place only for a select number of students in the elementary level who benefit from remaining connected to the staff and students with whom they are familiar.
“At the secondary level, simultaneous learning is taking place, where needed, to preserve access to a range of courses for students studying online or in-person and to avoid a full re-timetabling of schools resulting in course changes for most secondary students,” Bird said.
“Where feasible, fully virtual classes were created. Adopting an alternative model after the selection forms were received would have resulted in a delayed start and added further anxiety for many students at the start the second school year in a pandemic.”
-- With files from The Canadian Press