York Region District School Board confirms it will stagger start of school year
A custodian cleans a teacher's desk in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
TORONTO -- The York Region District School Board has informed parents that it is planning to stagger the start of the school year.
“We are planning a staggered entry for elementary and secondary schools to help students learn routines and become familiar with their new learning environments,” YRDSB Director of Education Louise Sirisko said in a letter to parents on Wednesday.
The details of the plan have not been released, but Sirisko said it would be made available soon.
The news comes a day after Minister of Education Stephen Lecce allowed boards to stagger the return to class over the first two weeks of school.
In the letter, Sirisko also said the ministry has confirmed that they could proceed with the board’s adaptive learning model for high school students.
In their model, students who have opted to attend school in person will be in school on alternating days.
“On the days they attend school, students will have 150 minutes of in-class learning at the start of the school day in one course, and three 50-minute periods of online learning in the afternoon,” Sirisko said.
On days that they are not physically attending school, students will engage in asynchronous and/or synchronous learning in the morning and then engage in live online learning with the entire class in the afternoon.
The director said the model maximizes safety and teaching is paced to provide more time for learning.
“It focuses on student safety and meets the requirements that students remain in cohorts of 15 and that direct and indirect contact of students is limited to 100.
“It also provides additional learning time over the course of the semester, including in-class learning, compared to some other models and allows for a more smooth transition to a conventional learning model if public health determines it is safe to do so,” Sirisko said.
The board is finalizing staff training on safety protocols, including masking.
“We are awaiting the provincial outbreak protocol and will be ensuring that our local plans uphold these expectations,” the director said.
Sirisko said the board is continuing to look for ways to reduce class sizes for in-person learning in elementary schools to ensure physical distancing is followed.
Parents, education unions, and school boards have criticized the province for the lack of physical distancing in elementary schools.
In response, the ministry has allowed boards to tap into their reserve funds to hire more teachers and to lease spaces to ensure proper physical distancing protocols are met.