Mississauga students might face a delayed start to the school year: PDSB


In an email to families, the Peel District School Board (PDSB)—which operates schools in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon—said that students could face a delayed start to the school year. 

On Aug. 21, the board said that it's heard back from approximately 81 per cent of PDSB families about their intentions to have their child(ren) return in September. 

Of those who have responded, 26 per cent of all PDSB students--about 40,000 pupils--will participate in distance learning only. That means that 30 per cent of elementary students and 17 per cent of secondary students will not be returning to in-person learning in the fall. 

"As you can imagine, this presents us with a monumental task, as a structure to support PDSB Online School does not currently exist. Building a meaningful, culturally responsive and relevant distance learning experience for this many students with diverse learning needs and identities who have already been impacted in disproportionate ways is a key priority for the PDSB," the board said in the letter. 

"Given the complex nature of the planning required, we may see a delay to the start of the school year for students who will be enrolled in PDSB Online School."

The board also said that students who will attend school in person may also see a delay to the start of the school year given the "time and consideration" required to build cohorts, organize classes and prepare for a safe reopening. 

The board said it expects to share an update with families by early next week. 

As far as masks are concerned, the board says that all students in Grades 1 through 12 will be required to wear a mask or face-covering while indoors at school, including in classrooms and hallways. 

Masks and face-coverings are strongly recommended for Kindergarten students. 

The PDSB also said it will be reducing class sizes by hiring additional elementary and secondary teachers using PDSB reserve funds. Reserve funds will also be used to hire additional custodial staff, implement HVAC enhancements, purchase cleaning supplies, implement health and safety training, provide special education and mental h ealth supports and fund distance learning.

The Ministry of Education has allowed the PDSB to use up to $36 million of its reserve funds. 

The board also said it's reviewing the need for staggering the entry for students who will be returning in person. 

"A staggered start will allow for a gradual return of students, and provide time for learning and adopting new routines and safety practices. Once a decision is made it will be shared with staff and families," the board said. 

"We understand that this is an unsettling time and have heard that more regular updates would be helpful. As decisions are made, we will share these with you in a timely manner. Please note that the board’s website will be updated as quickly as possible--please allow time for changes to be made."

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