Simcoe County public board says students can switch from online to in-class learning if space available

The Simcoe County District School Board says its policy remains unchanged when it comes to students having to remain in online or in-class learning until the end of the term, but exemptions may be granted in some cases.

Sarah Kekewich, manger of communications for the board, said a student may be able to make the switch before the end of the term in February of next year, but “only where space exists in a school.”

In June, prior to the summer break, parents were asked to decide whether they wanted to keep their children in online learning, or to have them return to the classroom in the fall.

Parents were told that once they made the choice, they could not switch their child’s learning model until the start of the next term.

“The staffing and development of both in-person and remote learning classes require considerable coordination, taking into account multiple factors including enrolment, school composition, class cohorts and collective agreements with our union members,” Kekewich said in a written statement.

“It is for those reasons that families were asked to make this decision about their child’s learning mode in June. We understand that this was a difficult decision; however, we needed to prepare for our students to ensure that programming would be ready beginning on Sept. 7.”

Amanda Reiber is a mother of three elementary-aged students who lives in the Everett area.

When she initially decided to keep her kids learning from home, her working circumstances were different. But her situation changed over the summer, prompting her to ask the board to allow her to switch her kids to in-class learning.

“I know I’m not the only parent in this situation,” she said.

She was told there was nothing that could be done until February. But she didn’t take no for an answer, and after weeks of pleading with the board, her request was granted.

She questions why the board didn’t revise the policy closer to the starts of the school year, when COVID-19 cases were lower, vaccination rates higher, and more people had started returning to work.

“I think February is too late if you ask me,” she said. “That’s half way through the school year, where you are going to have to uproot the kids and they will have to get used to everything again. I think sooner is better, because it will be less disruptive to their schedules.”