TDSB to open registration for virtual learning Thursday as it says kindergartners will have to wear masks
TORONTO -- Starting tomorrow, parents and guardians of students in the Toronto District school Board system will be able to choose whether their child will attend in-person or virtual learning for the coming school year.
In a notice sent out to families Wednesday evening, the TDSB said emails with a selection form link will be sent out on Aug. 5, allowing families to choose how their kids will learn this year.
The TDSB also said Wednesday evening that all students attending in-person junior and senior kindergarten classrooms will be required to wear facemasks this coming year out of concerns over COVID-19 safety.
“As part of this commitment to student and staff safety, the TDSB will continue to require the use of facemasks by all students in JK/SK classrooms this year,” the board said. “In addition, the TDSB is committed to providing HEPA filters in all occupied classrooms in the coming school year.”
Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) Director of Education Brendon Bowe told CP24 that students in TCDSB junior and senior kindergarten classes will likely have to mask as well.
“In Toronto Catholic last year we took a similar approach, where with the support of our trustees and in consultation, we also had a mandate for masks for students who were in kindergarten all the way up to Grade 12,” Bowe said. “There were lots of reservations about it to begin with but we did find the students adapted quite quickly and we were very successful in our students from kindergarten all the way up wearing masks as well. So we do anticipate a similar approach this year.”
The province has said that kindergarteners would be encouraged but not required to wear masks in September, but left room for school boards and public health units to make adjustments according to local circumstances.
The choice to register for virtual learning at the TDSB and the new information about masking comes after Ontario released its back-to-school plan earlier this week.
The plan calls for both elementary and secondary students to be back in classrooms five days a week in the fall in a manner that will allow most regular school activities to resume.
Provincial officials indicated earlier today that there will not likely be any provincially-mandated differences in the activities that vaccinated and unvaccinated students are allowed to participate in.
Teacher unions and opposition parties have slammed the Ford government’s plan, saying it falls short.
The latest government figures show that 67.18 per cent of young people between the ages of 12 to 17 in Ontario have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, currently the only vaccine approved for that age group in Canada.
Last week marked the threshold where a student could begin the vaccination process with enough time to be considered fully immunized by the start of the school year. That means that close to a full third of students aged 12 to 17 in Ontario will not be fully vaccinated by the time school resumes.
A little over 49 per cent of those aged 12-17 are fully vaccinated in Ontario.
In Toronto, the figures are slightly higher for the youngest eligible age group, with 68.9 per cent of those 12-17 having received at least one dose and 53.38 per cent fully vaccinated.
No vaccines are currently approved for those younger than 12 in Canada.
Parents will have until Aug. 12 to choose between virtual and in-person learning for the 2021 - 2022 school year, the TDSB said. If no selection is made, then the child will automatically be placed into in-person learning.
Notices asking families of students at the Toronto Catholic board to choose between remote and in-person learning went out in late July and their responses are due on Friday.