The Government of Ontario is proposing to make online learning a permanent part of the Ontario Education system. This proposal is NOT reflective of the views of diverse education stakeholders or rooted in data that shows actual student experience of virtual schooling during the pandemic. This proposal is an expansion of digital correspondence courses, taught asynchronously, through TVO/TFO with little certified teacher support as well as centralizing the administration of all e-learning courses across Ontario.
Why we are concerned
- The consultation on the proposal has been narrow in scope, under tight timelines, and in many cases has been severely muted through the use of non-disclosure agreements. The fact that it was introduced quietly to select stakeholders during the peak of the pandemic is problematic.
- No evidence has been provided to show that this proposal supports or improves student achievement or well-being, and in fact, education stakeholders suggest that it could exacerbate existing inequities.
- School Boards, including the HDSB, have robust online offerings which students may access, generally with high rates of completion. These courses are staffed and supported at all times by certified teachers. Completion rates associated with TVO’s Independent Learning Centre are very low in comparison.
- Centralizing the delivery of e-learning courses away from school boards will impact and complicate funding, staffing and enrolment.
- The decision is based on an economic model where TVO / TFO will assume control over online learning and will divert funding away from local school boards even though school boards will still be expected to fully support students taking TVO Independent Learning Courses (Guidance, Student Success, Special Education Resources, Library resources, working space, IT support etc.)
- Documented rising mental health issues in the virtual environment have not been fully understood and may become further exacerbated over time.
- Decreased staff contact with students to watch for social issues (food insecurity, social withdrawal, domestic violence, etc.) will be detrimental to already vulnerable students.
- Students will experience a loss of potential relationships with peers and staff, socialization opportunities, and valuable co-curriculars (clubs and sports). School is more than just the curriculum.
- Similar models in Michigan and Alberta have failed.
Student wellbeing and achievement must be at the forefront of any changes. Maintaining a world class education system can only be achieved through a measured, research-informed, collaborative effort.
Learn more about the proposal
Many articles have written about the proposal. To learn more about the proposal, you are invited to read the following articles:
- Ontario considering making online school a permanent option -CBC (includes Ministry’s proposal slide deck at the end of the article)
- Ontario educators, advocacy groups raise alarm about online learning plan -CBC
- OPINION: Ontario’s ‘choice’ of fully online school would gamble on children for profit (National Post, Kitchener Today)
- Ontario considers move to make remote learning permanent for all boards going forward -Globe & Mail (paywall)
- Online learning could be here to stay as Ontario considers plans to offer it to all students post-pandemic – Toronto Star (paywall)
Who is speaking out against this proposal
Education Associations and Education Advocacy groups have raised the alarm surrounding this proposal and have written extensively on the impacts on schools and Ontario’s world-class education system:
- Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA)
- Council of Ontario Directors of Education (CODE) representing 72 publicly funded school boards
- Ontario Principals’ Council (OPC) in association with French and Catholic Principal associations
- People for Education
- Canadian Federation of University Women
- Fix Our schools
An ever-growing list of School Boards have written letters to the Minister to object to the pace of potential implementation and lack of evidence that surrounds this proposal.
The HaltonEducationAction.ca website was created and is maintained entirely by the Trustees of the Halton District School Board.