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COVID-19: Some Ontario School Boards Abandon ‘Term’ System For Next School Year

Some Ontario school boards are planning to drop the much ridiculed “quadmaster” system for high school students in September, though students will still have to take extra-long classes.

The Toronto District School Board and Halton District School Board told parents they would go ahead with a “modified semester” system that would allow students to take four courses over a longer period of time, including alternating the two classes they have each week.

“The modified semester provides more face-to-face time between students and teachers, encouraging an opportunity to build relationships and support an increased sense of belonging in the classroom,” the Toronto Board of Directors said in a statement. message to parents.

“It also offers a slower pace by learning over a longer period of time than the four-month model. “

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Both TDSB and HDSB said the plan had the Department of Education’s seal of approval.

The move comes after boards said the education ministry last month instructed them to continue with the term system in an effort to prevent children from mingling with too many of their peers for fear that they don’t spread COVID-19.

The terms, set up for the 2020-2021 school year, saw students take two courses at a time for a period of approximately nine weeks.

Instead, said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird, the board offered the modified semester system as an alternative. The board of directors always determines the duration of a semester, but it will last longer than the nine weeks of the semester.

The norm before the pandemic was 300 minutes of class, often divided into 60-minute periods.

The Halton School Board said it would prefer to offer standard semesters without the overly long courses.

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The modified 20-week semester will allow them to switch to such a model during the school year if the provincial government allows it, the HDSB told parents.

The TDSB, meanwhile, said it was motivated to find an alternative to quadrimesters due to parents’ refusal.

“We realize this is not a perfect solution,” Bird said of the changed semesters. “But under current guidelines, we’re trying to make it as close to normal as possible.”

There has been a strong reaction to semesters from parents and students who say it is difficult to concentrate during long classes and the reduced time for class makes the workload unmanageable.

READ MORE: Ontario science table says schools can safely reopen on a regional basis

An online petition urging the province to abandon terms and cohorts in September garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

Joanne Pearson of Collingwood, Ont., The mother of three who started the petition, said it has been a difficult year for her sons.

“You compress a program into 10 weeks, so it’s been a real struggle,” she said. “Things like English, you are now supposed to read a novel and write an essay within a few days.”

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The modified semester system fixes some of the issues, giving students more time to complete homework and study for tests, she said, but she believes things should be back to normal before the pandemic in September.

“These kids and teachers will be getting two doses (of COVID-19 vaccine) by September,” Pearson said. “It’s happening faster than we thought. “

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce did not comment on the decline in the term or the changed semesters, but said the government wanted things to get back to normal as quickly as possible.

“With all students aged 12 and over and education workers prioritized for dual vaccination before September, this will allow more flexibility and allow for a more normal classroom learning experience _ including clubs, sports and extracurriculars, ”Caitlin Clark said in an email, highlighting the province’s investments in the education sector.

The province is also requiring all school boards to offer a distance learning option for students starting in September, giving parents the choice to feel safe sending their children back to class.

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© 2021 The Canadian Press

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