LONDON, ONT. -- The director of the Thames Valley District School Board says it’s a good idea for parents to prepare themselves and their children for a long period of remote learning.

“Certainly we’d prefer to bring everyone back together, face-to-face, but the reality is we may be in a remote learning environment up to the end of the school year,” says Mark Fisher.

Fisher’s comments come as the delayed spring break is about to conclude.

Elementary and high school students will return to online study Monday, after the province announced it would halt in-class learning for at least two weeks following the break.

By Tuesday, all students will spend a significant portion of their day doing real-time learning with their teachers.

Fisher says 25,000 electronic learning devices were not collected from students, prior to the lockdown, to ensure all have access.

Further, he says, the Thames Valley Education Foundation will be providing materials, including pencils, pens and paper to families who struggle to acquire supplies at home.

Overall, Fisher contends his board has pivoted to online learning in a good time frame, even though some smaller boards have been quicker to adapt.

In the London-area, both French-language boards have had all-day real-time online learning since the start of the pandemic.

Fisher says, “We have all the infrastructure in place, it’s just very challenging when we are talking about 80,000 students, 10,000 staff and 161 different learning sites to make that happen. So, we’ve been quite nimble for a district this size.”

Learning materials will be posted on digital learning platforms for students to begin independent learning right away.

Secondary students are expected to move to real-time learning in their second instructional block on Monday, while elementary students will continue to learn independently for the day with live learning starting Tuesday.

While secondary students will remain with their cohorts until the end of Quadmester 3, the cohorting system will end when the fourth quadmester begins April 26. More details are available here.