Toronto school board hires 350 teachers in rush to meet demand for online classes
The Toronto District School Board has hired 350 new teachers as it scrambles to meet a rising demand for online learning that has resulted in some students being left without a classroom.
The TDSB had previously pushed back the start of online learning on two separate occasions due to higher than expected demand.
On Tuesday, virtual school finally began for many students, one week after those who opted for in-person instruction began to return to classrooms.
However, an unspecified number of elementary students logged on to the board’s online learning platform to find that they have not yet been assigned a teacher and will be expected to learn independently for the time being.
In an email to parents Tuesday evening, the TDSB said that while thousands of students had a succesful start to the school year, "we know that others did not experience the start that they expected or what we would have liked to provide."
In an interview with CP24, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said that the board has seen the enrollment for its online learning program balloon from 56,000 students just a few weeks ago to about 78,000 today.
He said that as a result the board has identified a need for 500 additional teachers.
Over the last 24 hours it has hired about 350 teachers off its supply list but more will have to be brought on board in the coming days in order to assign classrooms to the thousands of students that have not yet been assigned one.
“We need these teachers hired as soon as possible. I anticipate we will be able to whittle that number down even further today,” Bird told CP24. “We should have a better idea in a day or so as far as a more concrete timeline. We are aiming and hoping that we can get all our virtual classrooms up for this week but really we will have a better idea once we get those staffing numbers updated later on today and tomorrow.”
In its message to parents Tuesday evening, the board said that new teachers "continue to join TDSB on an hourly basis" and that the board is "well on the way to having a teacher assigned to every class by end of day on Friday."
All parents that enrolled their child in the TDSB’s online learning program were asked to log into the remote learning platform Brightspace on Tuesday morning as scheduled but those students who have not yet been assigned a teacher were then redirected to some independent learning resources on the board’s website.
Bird said that while the board had hoped to have its virtual classrooms “fully up and running” in time for today, the sheer scale of the undertaking made that impossible.
“We have never done anything like this on this scale and I would argue probably haven’t done it in public education across Ontario or Canada to this level,” he said. “It takes some time and we understand that parents, staff and students are frustrated. We get that. But for the majority of students, they are learning today. Whether it is in person or online, a majority of students are learning today and we are aiming to get everyone else up and running by the end of the week as best as we can.”
The TDSB has said that a total of 60,000 students have been signed up for its online learning program at the elementary level and 18,000 at the secondary level.
A total of 2,200 teachers are required to fill all of the needed virtual classrooms at the elementary level.
The board also said Tuesday that it is aware that some parents continue to experience difficulty logging in to the Brightspace platform and said additional technical resources have been deployed to help.
With files from The Canadian Press