Local ETFO President Calling Next Year's Online Learning Plan 'Welcome News'

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Students across Ontario will have the option to work exclusively from home this coming school year.

The province made the announcement Tuesday pledging to increase funding to school boards by more than $560-million next year to help address pandemic-related costs.

Mario Spagnuolo is the president of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario.

He says planning for next year can now begin.

"It's a common thread with this government. We wish it was earlier than what they've announced. It would have helped if it was two months ago. We would have been planning already, but we'll take the late announcement and we'll have to run with it to ensure that we're ready for September."

Spagnuolo says we're now getting a clearer picture of what school will look like in September.

"What we are looking forward to is being able to know what the staffing will look like for the virtual school and that it is something that the government will fund. It's going to help the school board know that they will have funding coming to them to fund for a virtual school as a temporary measure to get us through this pandemic."

He says making online learning available next year was the right call.

"The news is welcome because they're understanding that the pandemic is not going away. We actually don't have all of our teachers vaccinated yet. So I think they're starting to realize that September is not going to be as normal as we thought it would be which we've been telling them from the onset. We need to be prepared for COVID still being here."

Ontario is set to spend $25.6-billion on the education system in 2021-2022 — that's an increase of 2.2% over the previous year.

It will also extend $1.6-billion in COVID-19 supports to boards, including millions to upgrade ventilation, support learning recovery and allow for flexible staffing.

— with files from AM800's Patty Handysides