TDSB approves back-to-school plans, considers delaying start of classes by a week

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TORONTO – The Toronto District School Board has unanimously approved a back-to-school plan that will see it draw partially from the reserves to hire hundreds of new teachers to increase spacing in elementary schools. The plan will see the board redeploy 400 staff and also hire 366 additional teachers. The plan will use $ 6.3 million in provincial funding already committed, as well as $ 2.9 million in reallocated funds from the council budget. However, the lion’s share of the money will come from the $ 29.5 million the board will withdraw from its reserve fund.

The model was approved by the TDSB finance committee ahead of Thursday’s special meeting. The committee considered and rejected two other proposals – one that used no reserve funds and another that used $ 59 million in reserve funds.

Interim Education Director Carlene Jackson warned at Thursday’s meeting that using $ 59 million from its reserves, the board could soon find itself in a position where it would have to make further cuts to cover its future obligations. For this reason, staff recommended the second option, which will see the TDSB dip into reserves of $ 29.5 million.

This plan will allow the TDSB to maintain class caps of up to 26 Kindergarten and Kindergarten students, 20 Grades 1 through 3, and 27 Grades 4 through 8. The cap for grades 4 to 8 would increase to 20 for schools in neighborhoods with higher levels of COVID-19, however.

Although class sizes will decrease overall, this will not be enough to meet a two-meter spacing recommendation issued by Toronto Public Health.

“There are a few (more) students for each different category, but when you look at the level of investment required to shift the need, even a little the staff thought the most appropriate balance was option two. Jackson said, noting that the board did nothing at all, there would have been around 750 elementary school classes with more than 30 students this fall.

The board has learned that more detailed plans for virtual learning will be released next week.

The school year can start on September 15

The board also learned at its special meeting on Thursday that staff are considering delaying the start of classes by a week.

“We believe Tuesday, September 15 will be the first day students enter school,” said Supt. Executive of the TDSB. Said Andrew Gold.

TDSB Acting Director of Education Carlene Jackson has previously said that unless there is a “miracle” students are unlikely to return to class on September 8, when children were originally scheduled to return to school. school.

The proposed delayed start follows a note from Education Minister Stephen Lecce to school boards earlier this week, saying they can delay the start of the school year by two weeks if they feel it would make it safer to resume school. .

“At the moment, we really don’t think it’s going to be feasible,” Jackson said of the September 8 start date earlier this week.

Ford government rejected previous plan

Today’s meeting comes a week after the Ford government rejected the TDSB’s plan to use a ‘term’ structure in high schools and end elementary school days 48 minutes earlier in order to reduce the size classes.

The TDSB said a survey of elementary school parents earlier this month found that about 29 percent of them did not intend to send their child away for in-person classes at the autumn. That number, however, will drop to 23 percent if smaller classes of 15 to 20 students are guaranteed.

For its part, the TDSB said there will be class shortages at 34 different schools under option two if every TDSB student chooses to return for in-person instruction. This number goes down to four if 20 p. 100 of students are switching to online learning this fall.

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