October 30, 2020

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Skillful education crafters

Dufferin-Peel Catholic school board to merge in-person and online classes as more students switch to remote learning

3 min read
The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says it will also be scrapping its virtual school...

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board says it will also be scrapping its virtual school and merging it with the in-person classes after a York Region Catholic school board announced that it is adopting a hybrid model to cope with staffing problems.

In a letter to parents on Thursday, DPCDSB Director of Education Marianne Mazzorato said face-to-face students will now be in the same class as those learning at home.

“The separate virtual school will no longer exist, as all students will rejoin their peers at their home school. Students who are currently in the virtual school will continue to learn remotely but aligned to their home school,” Mazzorato said.

She said the change is necessary to ensure that all students have access to all school programs the board and provide flexibility.

The new model, DPCDSB said, will allow parents to switch from in-class to remote learning at any time.

Before the new model, Mazzorato said the board had been planning to reorganize its in-person classes because more parents are switching to virtual learning, resulting in fewer in-class students.

“In order to staff the virtual school, face-to-face classes would have to be reorganized to align with overall Board staffing ratios. The reorganization of classes would have to be repeated in February to accommodate parental choice for learning modes,” Mazzorato said.

“We do not believe the frequent reorganization of classes is in the best interest, first and foremost of our students, nor of our staff.”

The board hopes to implement the plan next month.

Parents should anticipate that their child may be reassigned to another class or teacher when it occurs.

On Wednesday evening, the York Catholic District School Board also announced that it is combing in-person and virtual classes because of operational and staffing problems.

The board will close all elementary schools on Oct. 13 to prepare for the new learning model, which will begin the following day.

Jill Toffoli, whose children are enrolled at YCDSB, said she was shocked and outraged that the board is trying a new method a month into the school year.

“These students, whose parents chose the remote learning route, have been doing this for a month now. They’ve gotten over the hurdles of getting adjusted to online learning,” Toffoli said in an interview with CP24.

“And to now be thrown into the thrown this curve, and that they’re going to now be part of a different classroom, a different setup is just ridiculous.”

While the board claims that the new hybrid model has benefits, Toffoli countered, saying that it will disrupt the routines of online students.

“This has no benefits to the elementary students who chose the remote learning route. These students are getting amazing instruction from teachers teaching this method,” she said.

“The York board is all about mental health, making sure students reduce stress. This is causing tremendous stress to students, to their families and to all the teachers involved.”

Toffoli fears that the new model might increase the element of online students feeling excluded from the in-person class.

“With the remote classes, they actually feel like everybody’s in the same boat. They’re in an adequate classroom with all remote learners,” she said.

The move, Toffoli noted, contradicts what Toronto District School Board, the largest school board in the country, is doing. The TDSB recently announced that it is moving some of its elementary teachers to virtual learning to accommodate the demand.

She said YCDSB is making it more advantageous for the in-person learners.

“It’s preposterous.”