Coronavirus: Peel, Toronto school boards looking at teacher-led online education for April 6

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Peel District School Board (PDSB) say they are planning for teacher-led online education and resources in anticipation that schools will be closed beyond April 6 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford said last week that students will most likely not be going back to school on April 6 and a further update will be provided on the state of students’ education.

“Do I believe, and does the minister believe, April 6th, kids are going back to school? The kids won’t be going back to school on April the 6th,” Ford said at a press conference on March 23.

The premier, along with the minister of education and minister of colleges and universities, is set to make an announcement on Tuesday afternoon.

TDSB’s education director, John Malloy, said the board is working to ensure that as many students as possible have the opportunity to resume learning and connect students with their teachers and classmates.

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“Working with the Ministry of Education, we are developing a plan that will connect teachers to their students and/or their parents/guardians on a system-wide basis and will restore teacher-led learning to the greatest extent possible as of April 6, 2020,” Malloy said in a statement on the TDSB website.

“We are working very hard to provide all students with access to technology and the internet so that we can provide opportunities for all students in this very challenging time.”

A statement on PDSB’s website said the board will “restart teacher-directed instruction on April 6, 2020” in anticipation that Ontario’s Ministry of Education will extend school closures.

The school board said it is currently finalizing a plan called A Community of Care: Peel District School Board’s Learning and Support Plan.

According to PDSB, the plan will include information on how the board will deliver instruction to students from kindergarten to Grade 12 and to adult and continuing education programming, along with supports for students with special education needs and English language learners, ways to ensure access to devices and WiFi, mental health and community supports, online learning resources and more.

Peel said it is planning to share the plan with students, staff and parents by the end of the week.

“We are working to ensure that our use of online learning environments will not widen the divide between privileged and underserved students and that alternate learning strategies will be available,” Peter Joshua, PDSB education director, said in a statement.

“In addition, we’re working to ensure equity of access to technology. Your child/teen’s teacher will reach out to you in the next day or so — by email or phone — to determine your family’s technology needs.”

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