No end to virtual learning in sight

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce. November 2020. (Screenshot of video by Ontario Parliament)

The Minister of Education isn’t prepared to say if students will return to the classroom this school year, but the ministry is starting to provide some details on the following year.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Education Minister Stephen Lecce reiterated the province is not ready to bring students back to the classroom.

“The Chief Medical Officer of Health in Ontario’s advice has not changed,” said Lecce. “We continue to face real issues in the province of Ontario. High rates of community-based transmission and our intensive care units continue to face incredible levels of stress.”

Lecce did not provide a deadline for making a decision about returning to in-class learning this year but said he would be giving parents ample time to prepare.

“As soon as more information becomes apparent to the province we will communicate it so that families know. I think that is a reasonable expectation and we will continue to do that as we have,” said Lecce.

As part of the plan moving forward, all school boards will be required to provide a virtual learning option for the 2021/2022 school year.

“We’re unveiling a plan today that preserves choice for families for virtual learning and in-class. A plan that allocates $1.6 million of provincial dollars to protect the safety of children and help them recover from the learning loss that we’ve realized at home and we’re seeing it around the world,” said Lecce.

Lecce said the Ministry of Education is also continuing consultations with Ontario families to determine if a virtual learning model should continue after the 2021/2022 school year.