Not much movement expected between online, in-person learning in Lambton-Kent

Students wearing face masks in the classroom. (© Can Stock Photo / halfpoint)

With a deadline looming for families to choose between online learning or in-person instruction, the heads of two of Lambton-Kent’s biggest school boards are not seeing much movement between the two teaching methods.

Families who wish to transfer students between face-to-face learning and Learn at Home (or vice versa) in both the Lambton-Kent District School Board (LKDSB) and the St. Clair Catholic District School Board (SCCDSB) have until October 22, 2020 to let their school know about the change. That transfer would take effect on Monday, November 16, 2020.

While reports in the Toronto area a couple of weeks ago showed hundreds of students in the Toronto District School Board were looking to switch out of in-person learning amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases in that region, there does not appear to be as dramatic of a swing in the Lambton-Kent boards.

“More families are requesting to come back [to in-person learning] than are requesting to move [to online learning], but it’s not a great swell,” said SCCDSB Director of Education Deb Crawford on Thursday. “We are not seeing the big swing that we are seeing in the GTA.”

Crawford said while they are looking at a trend towards students coming back to the classroom, they do still have a significant number of parents who are happy with how the “virtual school” model and intend to stay in that model. She added that the board is still aiming to keep its class sizes in the face-to-face model as small as possible within the provincial guidelines.

Director of Education for the LKDSB John Howitt said his board is experiencing a similar situation.

“We are not seeing a net difference — we are seeing some requests for movement, but they are going in both directions,” said Howitt. “There is the possibility over the next six to seven days… that we may have to reorganize some classes in some schools, but it’s nowhere near the level that we’re reading about or seeing in the media in the GTA.”

One positive sign — noted by both Crawford and Howitt — is that the reopening of schools in both boards appears to be coming along smoothly enough that new registrations are increasing.

Howitt and Crawford both noted that a number of families with kids who are kindergarten-age — or were being homeschooled to start the year — who were not enrolled to start the year are now asking about sending their kids to school.

“I think that’s a vote of confidence in the lack of community spread and the efforts that have gone into the reopening,” said Howitt.