Whitby: Durham District School Board to outline plan to parents for remote learning today

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Published January 5, 2022 at 1:31 pm

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Durham schools will be reaching out to parents today to outline the plan for remote learning following the provincial government announcement that Ontario schools will be closed to in-class learning at least until January 17.

In a letter to parents and guardians, Durham District School Board Director of Education Norah Marsh said elementary schools will begin remote learning on Thursday, once the schools have been able to deploy technology to any families who do not have access to a learning device, adding that the board has limited resources for the technology rollout.

“We do not have sufficient devices for every student and this initial deployment will focus on one device per household,” she said. “Your child’s school will be in touch on Wednesday to outline the plan and schedule for remote learning during this time. By then, we will be able to develop school-wide schedules that meet the requirements of remote learning and make arrangements for any staff absences.”

The board will also have to accommodate students with special needs and school teams will be connecting directly with families/caregivers to plan for virtual learning where possible and for circumstances where essential and learning needs cannot be accommodated remotely, for in-person learning.

“As the situation continues to evolve, we will not be sharing additional information about changes to in-person health and safety measures until the in-person return date is confirmed. Schools will also not be open for students to come in and access any materials at this time,” she added.

With the uncertainty of the Omicron variant and its impact on school operations, the school board will also be delaying the option to change elementary learning preferences beyond the January 17 deadline until “we have a better understanding of future direction from the Ministry of Education.”

Marsh acknowledged the changes will be “challenging” for the board, teachers, parents and students alike but said the move will help stop the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

“We recognize that this shutdown will have an impact on many families that we serve, and our goal is to support your child through what may be an unsettling time. We also recognize the complexities of both DDSB staff and parents/guardians having work responsibilities at the same time students are learning from home and the additional stressors that may cause. We, therefore, ask for your continued understanding as we all work through less than ideal circumstances. These last two years have impacted well-being and mental health for many and the more we can be compassionate about others’ circumstances, the better we will emerge as a community from this pandemic.”

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