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An Ontario school board is asking the provincial government to withdraw the hybrid teaching model in September which allows for in-class and remote learning.

On Monday, Trustees of the Halton District School Board sent a letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce calling for the government to withdraw this model as it makes parents rely heavily on daycare which could cause greater exposure to COVID-19.

In June, the Ontario government created three plans for how students could return to class in the fall.

The three options include returning full time to in-person instruction while adhering to public health measures, continuing remote learning or take part in the hybrid model which sees a maximum of 15 students per class on alternative days or weeks.

The trustees of Halton school board have requested “appropriate funding” for a 15-student daily attendance in person model or “at the very least, adjustment of the model’s cohort size parameters to allow for daily attendance.”

“The hybrid model that boards have been directed to develop relies heavily on accessible and affordable childcare so that working parents may participate in the workforce. In Halton, that means a childcare need for up to 36,000 students in kindergarten to grade 6,” the letter says.

“This volume of childcare space does not currently exist in Halton Region and established daytime childcare within the region focuses on preschool aged children.”

The letter adds that because of this, temporary, casual, and unlicensed care may make up the majority of a potential new childcare market, of which the market has no “formal obligation to learn about or adhere to strict Public Health protocols to stop the transmission of the virus.”

The school board also argues that it would be safer if students returned to class full-time, claiming that allowing students to move between child care environments and classrooms often “increases their exposures and elevates students’ risk of infection.”

“This model, which disrupts the classroom “bubble”, will be counterproductive to limiting widespread community infection and poses great challenges to contact tracing efforts.”

The Toronto District School Board also released their plan for September which would cost them $250 million, with the board potentially shortening school days and not offering French as a result.

July 24, 2020

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