Some Toronto elementary students may not have a teacher on the first day of virtual classes: TDSB
Katherine DeClerq , CP24.com
Published Monday, September 21, 2020 6:24PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 22, 2020 9:01AM EDT
Some Toronto elementary students are waking up to find they still have no teacher assigned to them and will have to start their virtual learning independently.
The news comes after the Toronto District School Board warned parents of elementary students on Monday that it is still working to hire staff for virtual classrooms despite school starting Tuesday.
“While it was our plan to have all students start the year with synchronous (live, interactive) learning on the first day, we have determined that this will not be possible for some students due to ongoing efforts to hire staff for virtual classrooms,” the TDSB said on their website.
Parents were asked to to log into the remote learning platform Brightspace Tuesday morning as scheduled—at which point students will learn if their live instruction will begin.
“For those classes with a teacher assigned, synchronous learning will be underway on Tuesday,” the school board said.
“For those families, who log in to Brightspace and do not see a welcome message from a teacher, there is not currently a teacher assigned to the class and your child will begin on Tuesday morning with asynchronous (independent) learning.”
The board welcomed the students who will learn independently on Tuesday morning with learning activities and resources on its website.
The board also listed live sessions with a TDSB teacher for each grade.
“We know that this will be a disappointment for some and is not how we had hoped to begin the school year. Please let me assure you that efforts to hire more teachers have been ongoing and staff have been working around the clock and through the weekend to keep things moving forward. You will be notified as soon as your child’s class has been assigned a teacher.”
Speaking with CP24 on Monday evening, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said the board still had to hire about 500 teachers to meet the increasing demand for virtual learning.
“For our 60,000 elementary virtual students alone in the TDSB we need about 2,200 teachers to staff that properly. Right now we have about 1,700,” he said.
Bird said that the lack of teachers wasn’t due to budgetary constraints, but rather the time in which the school board had to hire teachers and assign them to classes.
“We know this is frustrating,” Bird added. “We had hoped to start everyone on time tomorrow with that live interactive learning. But the fact is, with the numbers continuing to go up and the number of staff required for those thousands of extra students, we just couldn't pull it off in time,
Tuesday’s start date for virtual learning was originally delayed after the TDSB received a surge in registrants.
According to Bird, about 78,000 elementary and secondary students opted to learn remotely rather than physically attend classes. The TDSB will have to review staffing again in mid-October when parents are given another opportunity to switch between online and in-person instruction.