Dozens of teachers will be leaving Waterloo Region classrooms in the days ahead, as more parents pull their kids from schools as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Both the public and Catholic school boards will be moving teachers from teaching in classrooms to teaching in the online stream by the end of October.
In a letter issued to parents, Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) director of education John Bryant said the board is being forced to pull 119 teachers from the classroom learning stream into the online learning stream to deal with increased demand.
“As you know, this school year is unlike anything we have experienced before,” he wrote.
“What makes this year more complex is that we now offer two learning options, in-person and distance learning, and are allowing families and students the ability to change their preferred learning mode at certain times throughout the year.
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“This process requires us to make changes to class lists, staffing, and class sizes.”
The school board allowed parents to make a change to which stream their children were in up until Sept. 25.
“Many families are requesting a change so more classrooms will be adjusted than usual,” Bryant wrote.
Those with children who are attending classes in person will be notified by their school if there are changes. Bryant says most children will not be effected by the shift.
“We understand that this reorganization could create a change to your child’s learning environment and established routine,” Bryant wrote.
“This realignment is essential for us to provide all of our students with equitable access to learning opportunities.”
Parents who chose to switch streams will hear from their new teachers on Oct. 23 with children begin classes on Oct. 26.
The board has around 64,000 students but did not say how many have chosen to enroll in either stream.
A spokesperson for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board told Global News they are moving 29 teachers from a classroom into their virtual school St. Isodore.
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“It is is not ideal and certainly not our preference to disrupt learning at this point in the year, but we have no choice,” chief managing officer John Shewchuk told Global News in an email.
“This is the trade-off necessitated by the government offering parents two options. We have neither the money nor staff (even if we had the money) to have teachers for two parallel systems, so we need to make some adjustments.”
The Catholic board recently surveyed parents to see if they wanted their children to switch streams.
Shewchuk said that 877 students are leaving classrooms while 101 others will be headed back.
“As a result of their feedback, as of Oct. 13, our total virtual registration will be 3,852 (elementary = 3,111 / secondary = 741),” he explained.
“There will be 20,414 in-person students as of Oct. 13.”
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