Hamilton families have been urged to prepare for the possibility that all students will soon be learning remotely.
In a notice to families, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) informed families that while Ontario’s Ministry of Education has not yet directed schools to revert entirely to remote learning, students and parents should be prepared for the possibility in the New Year.
“Should there be a need to pivot schools to remote in the new year, we will engage our Remote Readiness Plan for elementary schools similar to what was done last spring,” said the notice posted to the HWDSB website on Thursday (Dec. 17).
“Our team will be prepared to deploy devices based on identified needs within our current inventory.”
Earlier this school year, families were asked to fill out a survey to determine their remote-learning readiness, and the board maintains that based on those findings, they are prepared to provide devices and material to those who need it.
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“Staff are actively increasing the number of devices available for deployment (e.g., reassigned from other areas in the Board, returned devices not being used, and new purchases),” Thursday’s notice said.
The notification came following a week where Ontario and Hamilton reported several record-high newly confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Hamilton schools have also seen several days in a row where there were double-digit increases in the number of cases among staff and students.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce earlier this year declined to extend the winter holiday break, but the HWDSB notice said that recent communications to Ontario’s school boards urged them to prepare families for all eventualities.
“We are recommending that boards encourage students and staff to take home any materials that they may require for remote learning before they leave school for the holiday period so that we can continue to be ready for all scenarios,” a memo to boards from the Minister’s office on Dec. 16 said.
HWDSB said they will inform families of any changes through a School Messenger notification should a change in learning models be required.