Saturday, July 20, 2024
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The region’s largest school board will end its remote learning option for students at the end of the current school year. 

Trustees at the Upper Canada District School Board heard February 14 that enrolment for the learning option has declined to under 100 students. 

The program was begun as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. School boards were required to continue the program through to 2023. The Ministry of Education made it optional to offer the program after the 2022-23 school year, which the UCDSB continued.

This year, elementary remote learning had four multi-grade classrooms with split grades (Kindergarten to Grade 2, Grade 3/4, Grade 5/6, and Grade 7/8.) All four classes were led by a teacher and offered real-time participation if a student wished. Secondary learners took classes from the normal e-Learning options offered by the UCDSB and its partner school boards. 

Enrolment numbers for both programs have dropped significantly in the last two years. In 2021-22, 438 elementary students used fully remote learning. This did not include students learning remotely during provincially mandated lockdowns or shut-downs. This declined to 121 in 2022-23, and 72 students in 2023-24. Board administration projected that if the program continued in 2024-25, only 42 elementary students would take part. 

Secondary school enrolment saw a similar trend. In 2021-22,  333 secondary (Grades 9-12) students were enrolled in remote learning. That number fell to 83 students in 2022-23, and to 59 by this school year. More than half of those students have switched out of the program so far this school year, leaving only 28 students in remote learning. “We are serving below one per cent of our student population with this model,” said Brian Reed, principal of remote learning. 

Superintendent Susan Rutters told the board that administration is “confident in our ability to personalize our programs for those students who may need a different approach to find success in-person. We can meet the needs of students who are currently in a remote learning program with those personalized approaches within our schools.”

Trustee John Danaher (Dundas County) asked what the success rate was for students in remote learning. 

Reed said that real-time elementary students were more successful than those who were working not in the real-time or what the board calls “synchronous” learning. Similarily, secondary students in full-time e-learning did not do as well as students who only needed to take one e-learning course while learning in-person. 

“We have a different cliental in terms of Grade 9s and 10s,” he explained. “Typically our day school [e-learning] serves Grade 11 and 12 students.”

The resources used for the remote learning program will be distributed to other program delivery options for the next school year. 

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