The Toronto District School Board will bring back the “quadmester” model for secondary students during the 2021-2022 academic year.

The TDSB confirmed the move in a memo sent to parents on Wednesday, citing the need to provide a timetable that “meets both the anticipated public health measures and students’ needs.”

Under the “quadmester” model, which was introduced for the first time this year, students take two courses at a time across four separate academic semesters. It replaced a two-semester system where students were typically enrolled in four classes at a time.

“The Ministry of Education has directed all school boards including the TDSB to follow a timetable that emphasizes cohorting students as much as possible which for us results in the quadmester model,” board spokesperson Ryan Bird told CP24. “We know that it doesn’t work for everyone and we are trying to continue to explore ways to improve the daily schedule keeping in mind the number of minutes required and all that kind of stuff but for now are trying to follow the direction of the Ministry of Education knowing that it really is unpredictable what the fall will look like.”

Bird said that the decision to utilize the “quadmester” model for the 2021-2022 school year makes sense given the expected need to continue limiting “student-to-student” contact as much as possible.

He said if conditions improve and the need to reduce interaction is lessened, the TDSB could revaluate the decision prior to September.

It also remains unclear how many secondary students will have been vaccinated by the fall, though the Ontario government has said that it hopes to begin providing shots to children ages 12 to 17 sometime in June.

“We have to be flexible given that we really don't know what it will look like as vaccines continue to be put in arms,” Bird said. “I think it will be dramatically better but in the end we just don't know so we have to start with the quadmester model so that we can adjust accordingly.”

News about the plan for the fall comes in the wake of the ministry announcing that all school boards will have to provide a remote-learning option for the next school year, regardless of whether the pandemic has subsided enough to allow for the widespread resumption of in-person classes.

In an email to CP24, Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) President Harvey Bischof said that while “quadmesters aren’t ideal” and he can appreciate the need for caution “at this time.”

“Most important would be that the state of the pandemic and the safety measures in schools allow for students to return to face-to-face learning which best serves the vast majority of them. That would be a great relief for educators who just want to do the best they can for their students,” he said.

The proposed timetable for secondary schools next year is as follows:

  • Quad (Sept. to mid-November where students take two courses at once)
  • Quad (Mid-November to January where students take two courses at once)
  • Quad (February to mid- April where students take two courses at once)
  • Quad (Mid-April to June where students take two courses at once)