Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s director of education, Wes Hahn, promised parents, staff and students a full report on June 8 that will detail what the next school year will look like.
Hahn said he wants all stakeholders to know sooner than later what will be going on regarding instructional models in September.
“There are still a lot of moving parts and we are doing the best we can,” Hahn said. “We don’t want to be scrambling that last week of August like we were last year. The only thing that might affect our June decisions is the ministry has promised a key update in mid-August that we might need to pivot from depending upon what they say.”
The director said the board wants to have kids back in school but only when it is right and safe and when the medical officers of health have approved the move.
“All families are being asked to make a choice by June 1 regarding a return to school in September,” Hahn said, “and with those numbers we will have a better idea where our kids are going to be. We can’t build anything concrete without those numbers. Staffing and budget are going to be so tight this year.”
Hahn told trustees that an overwhelming number of parents have so far chosen in-school learning for their children and that all options are being looked at for delivering virtual learning including a partnership with the board’s Virtual Learning Centre.
“For elementary learn-at-home the numbers just aren’t there,” Hahn said. “The numbers committed at secondary are very low also.”
Hahn pointed out that there is also still significant instability regarding what September will look like because of issues around the vaccine rollout and how many students between the ages of 12 and 17 choose to get vaccinated after they become eligible May 31.
“Vaccines are moving along quite well,” Hahn said. “They will have a definite impact on school opening in September.”
Hahn said that high schools in the board will definitely open in September with cohorted classes utilizing either octomesters or quadmesters, and he expects direction from the ministry on which model the province would prefer. The board is also surveying their secondary leadership teams to see if they have a preference.
At the elementary level, little change in the structure of a student’s day is expected.
Masks are expected to be mandatory in the fall, along with the enhanced cleaning protocols that were seen right across the board this year.
Trustee Louise Clodd asked Hahn if they are considering a hybrid form of delivery next year that would have a teacher teaching both students located in their brick and mortar class and those on-line simultaneously.
“We are not considering a hybrid model for next year,” Hahn said.