With back-to-school plans revealed, debate on class size continues
LONDON, ONT. -- Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) trustees met for over five hours Wednesday night to discuss the board’s ‘Return to Learn’ plan, and classroom sizes continue to be source of contention among parents and educators.
“We are working hard to reduce class sizes, to the degree that we can,” says Thames Valley Director of Eduction Mark Fisher. "Recognizing social distancing and physical distancing is just one of many precautions we’re putting in place, in addition to masking, signage, extensive hand washing protocols, and also extensive cleaning protocols.”
The London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) released their plan Thursday for parents to look at. It is very similar to Thames Valley, and has parents and educators asking the same question about class sizes.
“Of course the class size is a big concern at the elementary level, it’s because of what we’ve been told about social distancing and large groups and stuff,” says Catholic Board Chair John Jevnikar
LDCSB Education Director Linda Staudt says once they know how many kids will be returning and how many parents elect to keep kids home, they will be able to get a better idea of how they can achieve a better balance.
“To the best of our ability we’re going to physical distance the students in the elementary, in the class room, and maximize the space and we’re going to keep the work together.”
Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie believes the plan will be a success, but was questioned Wednesday night by trustee Corrine Rahman about other school board districts in Toronto and Peel asking for smaller classes..
“And I think that is an area where we’re all going to be paying special attention, and you certainly could see an evolution of the guidelines, in the future. But at this point, I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that class sizes must all be smaller.”
On Thursday, Fisher said early indications from parents who are planning to keep their kids at home show the number is sitting around the provincial average of 10 per cent.
But it’s unclear if that number will grow as many parents are mulling over their decision as long as possible.
The TVDSB has a deadline of Aug. 18 for parents to decide via the board’s Parent Portal, while the Catholic Board will allow until Aug. 20 for parents to make the decision of which route their children will follow for the school year.