Large online classes due to lack of teachers, local teachers' union says
KITCHENER -- As more students in Waterloo Region transition from in-person to virtual learning, a local teachers' union says there are too many students in the classes.
The deadline for parents to ask to switch students' mode of learning passed on Friday for the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB). The school board said most of those applications are to move into distance learning.
Melissa Deneault's daughter started Grade 1 through distance learning.
"I would say overall it's been going well," she said.
It's been a learning curve while Deneault juggles working from home and helping her daughter with her classes.
"I didn't realize how much handholding and assistance my daughter would need in terms of doing the distance learning," she said.
Deneault said she was hoping for more time to monitor the situation before committing to distance learning until next year.
"I was a little disappointed with having to make the decision this week," she said. "The deadline is now extended into February, so it's quite a long period of time."
As of last week, the WRDSB said more than 1,000 families had opted to switch learning modes -- the majority of those leaving the classroom for online learning.
One local teachers' union said there aren't enough teachers for distance learning.
"Because they are still looking for more teachers, teachers are dealing with more classes than what they normally would," said Patrick Etmanski, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association Waterloo Unit. "They may have 70 kids in a virtual classroom, but they are in two or three different classes or groups."
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) is still trying to hire 12 elementary teachers.
"We do have about a dozen classes that are quite large, in the high 30s," WCDSB director of education Loretta Notten said. "The classes are little bit larger in the virtual environment, given that we are having trouble filling those last positions."
Notten said more students moving to the virtual environment could increase the size of online classes.
"We are looking at what our options are," she said.
Families can apply to change learning modes in the WCDSB until Sept. 28.
The board hopes to finish hiring teachers within the next two weeks.