Extension Requested for Learning Model Change Deadline

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Elementary school parents want the deadline to choose learning models pushed back, and they've gained support from the teachers union.

Parents with the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) must decide whether they want their kids learning in-person or virtually,  by Wednesday, January 6, at 4 p.m., with changes taking effect by Feb. 2.

Jane McArthur penned a letter to the board on behalf of her fellow parents asking for that deadline to be pushed back.

She says it's unreasonable to expect a parent to make a decision about their child's safety with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising at a record pace.

"To make a decision right now that lasts through until June, I think is not tenable one given how quickly we've seen things have changed in the this community as we face this virus," she says.

McArthur says many parents want to see the infection rates coming out of the holidays before they make a decision.

"Delay the deadline, add future dates for switches," she says. "One of the trustees did respond to me and indicated she too, as a parent and an advocate, felt that there should be a reconsideration of the permanence of this decision."

Mario Spagnuolo is the Greater Essex County VP of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and has been in talks with several parents and says teachers share their concerns.

"It would be prudent to push back that date to give parents, educators and the community in general some time to look at what the numbers will be in two weeks following the holiday break and make a decision then," he added.

Teachers are just as concerned about the urgency of the decision, according to Spagnuolo.

"We're seeing record numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Windsor-Essex area and yet the school board's asking parents to make basically permanent decisions for the remainder of the school year," he says.

McArthur is hopeful more parents will reach out to the board to make their position known.

"I'm not alone in wanting this change so I'm hoping other parents will also communicate with the school board and the school board will recognize that we need to see some kind of shift that recognizes we need to adapt and continue to adapt," she added.