Toronto public Catholic school boards close schools Tuesday

Toronto’s public and Catholic boards will keep schools closed on Tuesday due to snow – filled city streets and concerns about bus safety – but say students will not be provided with any live online lessons.

Instead, teachers can volunteer online, or students can work on existing assignments.

But in the York region, the public board said its schools would also remain closed, but students would be provided with live or “synchronous” online learning for the day.

The Peel public and Dufferin-Peel Catholic boards also announced that their schools would be closed Tuesday. Dufferin-Peel said students would “follow their regular daily schedule from time to time, including lunch and / or recess.”

The Toronto Catholic District School Board said in an email to parents Monday night that given Mayor John Tory’s statement about a major snowstorm and asking people to stay home so roads can be cleared, there are “safety concerns around access to school. .. and on restrictions on available buses / drivers and navigation of unploughed streets ”Tuesday.

School-based childcare may remain open, but parents are asked to check with providers, the board also said.

On Monday, students in GTA and other parts of southern Ontario received one snow day or learned online, but elsewhere in the province, students were back in school, in person, after nearly two weeks of virtual teaching.

Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards ‘Association, said she had a conversation with colleagues around the province on Monday, “and we laughed a lot about it because all the trustees from the north and from the traditional snow belt areas were saying’ now you know how it is. ‘ ”

Education Minister Stephen Lecce, who last week announced that the province’s two million students would be able to came back to class January 17th after a COVID increase forced schools online, said in a statement to Star on Monday that “while Mother Nature had other plans today, I would like to thank all parents, students and staff for their commitment to safety and their patience and vigilance through this pandemic. “

He and chief physician dr. Kieran Moore had said two quick tests would be available to staff and students at all schools and that the province had distributed millions of N95 masks to teachers and upgraded masks to children along with more HEPA air filters and focus on targeted vaccination clinics for the school staff.

It was unclear which other boards in southern Ontario would keep schools closed Tuesday.

In the District School Board of Ontario North East, based in Timmins – where personal classes resumed Monday – Education Director Lesleigh Dye said the first day back went “exceptionally well” and that all schools were able to open.

“We had 12 days of bad weather before the holidays,” she noted.

On Monday, student absenteeism varied, she added, with a school as low as 13 percent and one that hit 33 percent. But she added that it may be loud, “as some families are still deciding whether to go with the full virtual option,” as boards offer to those who do not feel safe sending their children back.

The board, which had one lack of staff even before the pandemic, was proactive and for the first time hired supply teachers in advance, Dye added.

Staffing is a major concern for all Ontario boards given the high number of Omicron cases in the community, and given that teachers must stay free if they are sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

“We knew that without the staff in advance, some of our classes would have to make a virtual day,” Dye said, adding that occasionally were sent to schools based on enrollment, and principals could assign them as needed.

Liana Holm, chair of the Sudbury-based Rainbow Room of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, said the provincial COVID screening tool led to a number of teachers staying home either with symptoms or due to exposure, and that the board did not could get replacement teachers for some classes.

She said staff are being relocated within a school, but said “we are operating in a system that really can not sustain itself.”

The screening tool “does what it has to do,” she added, “but it may not have been the time, with the restrictions that are out there, to put children back in the classrooms. They are going to swing back and forth in many places.”

In southwestern Ontario, in the Windsor area – where locals did not report a fluff of snow – attendance at both public and Catholic schools was high.

Stephen Fields of the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board said staff absenteeism “was not out of the ordinary at this time of year. We were able to staff all of our classrooms, which was very good news for us. We got off to a good start. on day one, and we hope that trend continues. ”

Scott Scantlebury of the Greater Essex County District School Board said student attendance was “pretty good across the board” and it was “able to fulfill all of our teaching responsibilities with either regular staff or occasionally.”

“It will be a daily thing” with teacher absence, he also said. “We have put together a fairly deep supply list” in anticipation of staff shortages.

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