Ontario government rejects Toronto school board plan citing not enough class time

School children in Taiwan.

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Muskoka Post Staff

The provincial Ministry of Education has rejected Toronto District School Board (TDSB) proposals for reopening both elementary and secondary schools, claiming plans for both don't give students enough time in class.

With 3 weeks left till the school year begins parents in the Toronto area still don‘t know how class sizes or how their children’s day will be structured.

The government informed TDSB of its refusal in a memo on Aug. 14.

TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird said the Ontario government took issue with the board's plan to reduce the average size of classrooms to 15 students for kindergarten to grade three, and 20 students for grades four to eight, which would have seen the board hire 200 additional teachers at a cost of $20 million.

TDSB said ending the elementary school day 48 minutes earlier was cited as the most affordable way to decrease class sizes and increase physical distancing, as teachers' prep time was moved earlier into the school day.

The Ford government also refused to approve the TDSB's plans for a "quadmester" high school year, saying it did not give students a minimum of 50 per cent of the school week physically in class.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Caitlin Clark said the rejection was in part due to the school board moving prep time into what was normally considered part of the school day.

"We want to see students in class for a full day. Several teacher unions have refused to discuss issues such as prep time, supervision limits, and lunch breaks. This has forced boards to make significant adaptations, which in many cases does not serve to maximize learning experience, health and safety, and well-being of students."

Last week minister Stephen Lecce authorized boards to dip into their reserve funds to hire more teachers to increase physical distancing, and granted $50 million to upgrade ventilation systems in schools.

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