Catholic board says hybrid learning best option for high school students

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The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board is sticking by its decision to keep the hybrid teaching model in place at the secondary level.

The board discussed its return to school guidelines at a meeting Tuesday night with Superintendent John Ulicny stating it's the best way to keep high school students engaged and connected with their peers.

Under the hybrid model, educators teach both in-person and remotely via web cam at the same time.

Ulicny says hybrid learning was used last year and teachers have been given plenty of opportunities for additional training.

"We began preparing for this flex learning approach right at the onset of the pandemic," says Ulicny.  "Over the past 18 months, we've relied on the hard work of our excellent consultant staff who have supported our teachers with numerous professional development opportunities to strengthen individual curriculum delivery."

He says the hybrid model ensures students have access to all courses.

"The biggest advantage of the hybrid model lies in the fact that students are able to maintain access to the full array of courses that they have selected and that each individual student's post secondary program pathway has not been interrupted,"he says.

Ulicny says staff can keep teaching the classes they're used to using the hybrid model.

"The hybrid model further allows the board to staff our secondary schools with excellent and competent teachers who are working in areas that they're qualified to teach," says Ulicny.  "This is extremely important when it comes to the many specialty classes that we offer at the secondary level."

Hybrid learning at the high school level has drawn criticism from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association with local secondary school president Joe Brannagan stating it's setting remote students up for failure.

Elementary students will not be taking part in the hybrid model — they were given the opportunity to choose virtual or in-person learning.

The full back to school plan can be found on the Catholic board's website.