KITCHENER -- The Waterloo Region District School Board has released some numbers regarding the number of students who will be attending school in person in September.

While the board is still waiting to hear from some families about their plans, as it stands more than a third of students will not be returning to the classroom at some schools.

That means there will be fewer, but possibly larger, classes at some local schools.

The board sent out a survey to families asking them to indicate whether students would return in person, or opt instead for distance learning. As of Aug. 26, here are the results, which may have changed as more outstanding families return their surveys.

At Winston Churchill Public School, for example, nearly 40 per cent of families have opted out for their students. The school is still waiting on responses from four per cent of families, but 38 per cent have already opted out.

Four other schools have had more than 30 per cent of students opt out, as well:

  • Abraham Erb Public School: 33 per cent of students have opted out;
  • Groh Public School: 31 per cent of students have opted out;
  • Howard Robertson Public School: 30 per cent of students have opted out; and
  • Janet Metcalfe Public School: 30 per cent of students have opted out.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation Ontario says that these numbers could mean fewer, larger classes at the schools.

At Abraham Erb Public School in Waterloo, for example, the third-smaller school population will result in six fewer classes. At Howard Robertson Public School, the 30 per cent drop in student population could mean four fewer classes. ETFO also said that Groh Public School could have as many as 10 fewer classes.

The board says it's trying to keep classes as small as possible, with the average class size of 24.5 students. The board still has to have a plan in place to accommodate any students who eventually want to switch from distance learning to in-class learning or vice versa.

"It is a positive that the school board is making an effort to try and have some smaller class sizes at some of these schools," EFTO-WR President Greg Weiler said.

ETFO says teachers are still waiting to find out more about their assignments, and that's expected to continue to roll out throughout the week.

With all this in mind, some schools are still waiting for a substantial number of parents to respond to their survey as the school year draws near.

Country Hills Public School, Howard Robertson Public School, J F Carmichael Public School, Keatsway Public School, Lincoln Heights Public School, Linwood District Public School Parkway Public School, Prueter Public School, Queen Elizabeth Public School, Queensmount Public School, Rockway Public School and William G Davis Public School are still waiting for responses from more than 10 per cent of their students.

As for secondary schools, most students will be returning, with percentages ranging from 78 per cent at Waterloo Collegiate Institute—where 11 per cent of students still need to respond—and 93 per cent at Elmira District Secondary School, where two per cent of families need to respond.