Teachers’ union concerned with new PDSB policy to switch to online learning for snow days

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Published November 29, 2021 at 11:51 am

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With new technology having been implemented to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on learning, a side effect is snow days won’t be the way there were in the past in Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon.

The Peel District School Board (PDSB) has announced that when inclement weather forces the cancellation of school buses, schools will shift to the online learning method for the day, rather than cancel classes outright.

Additionally, during these days, school buildings will remain open for educators and staff who need access to the building, as will child care programs.

In response, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) shared a letter to Rashmi Swarup, director of education for the PDSB, expressing concerns about the decision.

Among the issues raised was the concern that the shift to online learning would negatively impact students who do not have access to the technology necessary to facilitate this model, such as a computer or high-speed internet.

“The pandemic has brought to the surface and amplified glaring inequities that, for far too long, have been allowed to exist within our systems,” reads the letter written by Gail Bannister-Clarke, executive member of the ETFO and president of Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local.

Additionally, the letter raises concerns that this policy does not provide teachers enough time to adjust their lesson plans for the day.

“The expectation to pivot to an online model with day-of notice during inclement weather is an added stress for teachers who have planned their in-person lessons,” reads the letter.

According to the PDSB’s website, the decision to cancel buses will be announced by 6:15 a.m., meaning most teachers will have less than three hours to adjust their lesson plans to facilitate the shift to online learning.

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