Some Toronto elementary students wake up to no teacher on first day of virtual classes
TORONTO -- Some Toronto elementary students are waking up to find they still have no teacher assigned to them and will have to start their virtual learning independently.
The news comes after the Toronto District School Board warned parents of elementary students on Monday that it is still working to hire staff for virtual classrooms despite school starting Tuesday.
“While it was our plan to have all students start the year with synchronous [live, interactive] learning on the first day, we have determined that this will not be possible for some students due to ongoing efforts to hire staff for virtual classrooms,” the TDSB said on their website.
Parents were asked to log into the remote learning platform Brightspace Tuesday morning as scheduled—at which point students learned if their live instruction had started.
“For those classes with a teacher assigned, synchronous learning will be underway on Tuesday,” the school board said.
“For those families, who log in to Brightspace and do not see a welcome message from a teacher, there is not currently a teacher assigned to the class and your child will begin on Tuesday morning with asynchronous (independent) learning.”
The board welcomed the students who will learn independently on Tuesday morning with learning activities and resources on its website. The website also listed live sessions with a TDSB teacher for each grade.
“We know that this will be a disappointment for some and is not how we had hoped to begin the school year. Please let me assure you that efforts to hire more teachers have been ongoing and staff have been working around the clock and through the weekend to keep things moving forward," the board said. "You will be notified as soon as your child’s class has been assigned a teacher."
Toronto board hires 300 teachers overnight to meet demand
TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told CTV News that the board has managed to hire overnight 300 of the about 500 teachers needed to meet the increasing demand for virtual learning.
“We need about 2,200 teachers. We had about 1,700 of them yesterday and I got an update that says we now have 2,000 of them,” Bird said.
“We are still trying to track down 200 teachers of our occasional or supply teacher lists, and we hope to get them on board and up and running as soon as we humanly can.”
Bird said the board was initially expecting about 56,000 virtual students, but that number has now climbed to 78,000.
“When we get an extra 20,000 students taking part, we need the staff to teach them. So unfortunately with the demand we've just been trying to hire teachers as quickly as possible,” Bird said.
“We’re hoping to have most, if not all, done this week but we should have a better idea later on, over another day or two.”
Bird said that the lack of teachers wasn’t due to budgetary constraints, but rather the time in which the school board had to hire teachers and assign them to classes.
Tuesday’s start date for virtual learning was originally delayed after the TDSB received a surge in registrants.
The TDSB will have to review staffing again in mid-October when parents are given another opportunity to switch between online and in-person instruction.