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Toronto and Peel Region school boards to kick off 'teacher-directed' instruction on April 6
TORONTO -- The Toronto District School Board and The Peel District School Board have announced plans to resume teacher-directed instruction on April 6.
Earlier this month, Premier Doug Ford ordered the closure of all schools in the province for three weeks in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Schools were initially slated to reopen on April 6 but Ford has since said that the closure will be extended with a formal announcement expected to be made by Education Minister Stephen Lecce sometime this week.
In a letter to parents, the Peel District School Board’s Director of Education Peter Joshua said that the board has been “busy developing new ways to deliver curriculum” during the closure of its schools and plans to release information about its online learning plan this week.
He said that he anticipates that there will be “some turbulence upon take-off” but noted that he is committed to “reaching and supporting every learner.”
“We are working to ensure that our use of online learning environments will not widen the divide between privileged and underserved students, and that alternate learning strategies will be available,” the letter states.
“In addition, we’re working to ensure equity of access to technology. Your child/teen’s teacher will reach out to you in the next day or so—by email or phone—to determine your family’s technology needs.”
In the letter to parents, Joshua said that the board’s plan will include ways to ensure equity of access to devices and Wi-Fi, mental health and community supports and help for students with special education needs and English language learners.
“Thank you for your ongoing patience as we work to create a comprehensive and equitable plan to ensure all learners’ needs are met,” he said.
The TDSB also told CP24 on Tuesday that it too plans to resume teacher-directed instruction on April 6.
“We are kind of calling this distance learning or virtual learning. E-learning is where an entire course is taught online from start to finish and our intent here is not to replicate the school day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I need to be really clear about that because that would be quite challenging,” the TDSB’s Director of Education John Malloy told CP24 on Tuesday morning.
Malloy said that the TDSB is currently in the process of “getting technology to students,” who might not have access to it at home.
As part of that work, he said that the board has reached out to all parents electronically and over the phone to assess their needs and has now heard back from all but a “very small percentage.”
He said that efforts are also underway to support teachers “in this new space,” many of whom may not have prior experience with electronic learning.
“We know that school makes a difference in kids’ lives and to their wellbeing and we also know that the connection between educators and students is important and that is why working with our ministry we are trying to get there as fast as we can,” he said.
The province had previously rolled out a “learn at home” online portal for students, which included some course material for secondary school students as well as educational resources from TVO.
The reintroduction of teacher-lead instruction, albeit electronically, represents another phase in the province’s efforts to restore some level of normalcy for public students.