Schools advise families to prepare for switch to virtual learning

Children wearing face masks in school. (File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / halfpoint)

Schools in the London area are advising staff and students to take home any materials required for virtual learning before they begin winter break on Friday.

In a memo issued to school boards, Education Minister Stephen Lecce said to prepare for the possibility of remote learning in the new year.

While no official announcement to close schools has been made as of yet, the decision would be determined by the ministry or local public health officials. Schools will then inform families should the change come while students are on break.

Mark Fisher, Director of Education for the Thames Valley District School Board, said schools have prepared to transition to a remote learning environment at a moment’s notice.

“In our secondary schools, every student [who] indicated that they need a device, has been provided with a device, and every teacher is on an online platform. For our elementary schools… We do have some gaps with some students who either don’t have devices yet, or they are in some areas of our district where internet access is problematic.” Fisher told Blackburn News London.

Fisher added that since March, the board has continued to order more laptops to be used for virtual learning. Schools are also prepared to distribute print materials for those with limited internet access, though there could be challenges down the line depending on the severity of a potential lockdown.

“We want learning to continue, no matter what platform we happen to be in at any one time.” Fisher said.

The school board stated it will continue to work with public health partners at the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Southwestern Public Health for guidance.

Barring a lockdown, London-area schools will re-commence hybrid learning on January 4, 2021.