The UCDSB sent out a notice on March 4 telling families that the deadline to choose between online and in-person schooling for next year is March 14 at 10 am. UCDSB superintendent of schools Susan Rutters attributed to short deadline to the Ministry of Education, which must adhere to the deadline for staff placements written out in the collective agreements with education unions
The Ministry is moving away from the hybrid model of learning, which allows students to choose on a day-by-day basis whether they’ll be in-person or remote. This model is more expensive to operate and impacts educational union contracts which all expire in August 2022, so ahead of that expiration date, the Ministry is more definitively separating in-person and remote learning. Kindergarten to Grade 8 classes will soon have dedicated online classes with their own teachers, and the number of in-person students will directly affect a school’s budget and number of in-person staff.
Grade 9-12 students attending remote learning might have a much different experience next school year. They may be placed in online courses run by a different school board if not enough UCDSB students choose to take it and switching between in-person and online courses will be heavily restricted.
Students won’t be able to switch between remote and in-person learning until the end of the first term, in February 2023. Once families choose their learning method on March 14, it’s locked in until next year. There will be no option to change it before the school year starts in September.
The UCDSB can’t reserve an in-person space and an online space for the same student, as again, the numbers affect staffing and budget. For secondary school students, online vs in-person course selection also affects which courses will be offered in the board, and which will need to be outsourced to a different board.
Families should also keep in mind that another wave of COVID-19 may force the board back to only remote learning.