Waterloo Region public school boards offering short-term virtual learning for concerned families
As Waterloo Region families prepare for the return of in-class learning on Monday, both public school boards in the area say they will provide a ‘short term’ option for those who are not comfortable with sending the children back to class.
A notice was sent out by the Waterloo Region District School Board Wednesday night to families about the province's new measures.
It included WRDSB’s new Short Term Virtual Learning Option that states “we understand some parents and caregivers may not feel comfortable sending their children back to in-person learning at this time. We will be offering a Short Term Virtual Learning option to meet the needs of families who wish to temporarily continue with remote learning."
“We are absolutely confident in the health and safety measures we have in place," said Lila Read, associate director for the WRDSB.
Both boards said they've received N95 masks for staff, but they're still waiting for the additional HEPA filtration units the province promised.
“In our board that is 70 units. We have not received those as of yet,” said Read.
Rapid test are expected to arrive on the weekend, according to both school boards.
“We're hopeful to get them out to staff. But It may be the end of next week before we can get them in their hands,” said Loretta Notten, director of education for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
Unions representing teachers said there are still concerns.
“If you have 30 teenagers in the classroom there is no social distancing,” said Rob Gascho, president of OSSTF.
“We are concerned that things are really no different from how they were in December except for the fact that parents and staff now have no idea about cases that may be in the schools. To say that parents are empowered by providing them with two RATs and not telling them what is happening in the schools just doesn't make sense,” said Patrick Etmanski, the President of OECTA, in an e-mail to CTV Kitchener.
“The government’s failed to reinstate monitoring and reporting of COVID-19 cases/outbreaks in schools, and communication with close contacts and families,” said Jeff Pelich the president of ETFO in an e-mailed statement.
“We know that we know that when we reach a 30 per cent threshold of absenteeism that’s why we should be notifying public health,” said Notten.
Public boards said their temporary remote option will start Jan. 19 and go until Feb 1, depending on demand.
“In elementary for every grade in every subject area it will be broadcasted lessons,” said Read.
The Catholic board will be offering a similar model with elementary students and a model similar to the current hybrid learning situation for secondary students.
“An opportunity to work through today’s lessons asynchronously,” said Notten.
Both boards say staffing is a concern, but the province is allowing retired teachers to return for 95 days. Both boards said they will utilize that option.