According to information provided by local school boards, the number of students returning to their home schools this month after taking part in remote learning due to the pandemic far exceeded those who made the opposite switch, from in-person to remote.
All four local school boards allowed students to switch between learning modalities this month.
We asked for information from all four boards on the numbers of students who made the switch.
When added up, 929 students in the four school boards serving Greater Sudbury moved from remote learning to in-person learning in November, while 373 moved from in-person to remote learning.
Liana Holm, the president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) Rainbow local, representing Rainbow District School Board elementary teachers, said she’s not surprised students are being sent back to face-to-face school.
At least at the elementary level, positive COVID-19 cases have been low so far in local schools. The union leader said parents are also moving their kids for personal reasons which include issues surrounding employment, child care, socialization, mental health and more.
“There’s lots of very personal circumstances,” Holm said. “I think parents are just doing the best they can.”
She said parents, teachers and school boards are being put in a difficult position by the province, which she feels is prioritizing the economy.
Holm said her union and the Rainbow District School Board are working together and doing their best “to make sure everybody is safe.”
For its part, the Rainbow District School Board said a total of 331 students from junior kindergarten to Grade 8 moved back to their home schools for in-person learning.
There were also 131 Rainbow board Grade 9 to 12 students who changed from remote learning to in-person learning.
Sudbury Catholic District School Board said 267 of its students from junior kindergarten to Grade 12 switched from remote to in-class learning this month.
The French Catholic board, Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon, said 139 elementary and 11 secondary students moved from remote to in-person learning this month, and the French public board, Conseil scolaire publique du Grand Nord de l’Ontario, said 50 of its students made the same switch.
We also asked how many students went the other way this month, switching from in-person schooling to remote learning.
The Rainbow board reports 109 elementary and 72 secondary students moved from in-person learning to remote learning this month.
That number is a combined 141 elementary and secondary students at Sudbury Catholic, 19 elementary and 29 secondary at Conseil scolaire catholique Nouvelon and just three at Conseil scolaire publique du Grand Nord de l’Ontario.
In terms of the staffing impact from the switches, it seems that is minimal.
The Rainbow board said at the elementary level, a few teachers were transferred back to schools for in-person learning. At the secondary level, there was no impact on staffing at the secondary level where remote learners connect live to the classroom.
Sudbury Catholic said that in general, staffing levels have not changed. The board has made a couple of adjustments where two teachers from remote were re-allocated to in-class and two Early Childhood Educators were also hired to address classroom needs.
The two French boards said there was no staffing impact on their systems from the switches.
All four boards also said there were no delays in honouring these transfer requests.
Although specific dates vary, all four boards have set February timelines as the next chance for students to transfer between learning modalities (the exception is the French Catholic high school Collège Notre-Dame, which has a transition date of March 8).