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At Thames’ board of directors, which covers counties of London, St. Thomas, Woodstock and Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford, new staggered departure times will likely be shared with parents by the end of the week, said Fisher.
The board, one of the largest in Ontario, is the largest school system in southwestern Ontario.
Fisher said the new direction given by the Education Department last Friday limiting high school contact, combined with Education Minister Stephen Lecce granting school boards permission to stagger back to school during the first two weeks of the year, led to the new calendar.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Fisher said.
Changes to the high school model, which limit the number of people students can be exposed to – directly or indirectly – to 100 have shaken up board planning, he said.
Instead of two classes, high school students will only be able to take one per day, Fisher said.
“Each student has a unique schedule and usually eight different classes,” he said.
But the change has had dire consequences.
“This means some classes are half full and some classes are empty and may need to be canceled,” he said. “These changes affect every student’s schedule. Over 25,000 students are being expelled as we speak.
Fisher said the extra time will be used to schedule distance learning for 12,000 students who have chosen full distance learning.
“We will recruit staff from all schools in the system so that we have enough teachers for full distance and classroom learning,” he said. “It’s a tough business that requires extensive planning.”