Teachers' Union President Not Surprised Over Student Opt Out Numbers


The president of the Greater Essex Elementary Teachers' Federation says he's not surprised by the number of students who have opted out of in-person learning for the upcoming school year.

Roughly 1,400 elementary students have selected virtual learning for September.

Mario Spagnuolo says the union was expecting a number in that ballpark with 24,000 students at the Greater Essex County District School Board.

Spagnuolo says planning can now shift into high gear.

"We will prepare in the next few weeks for those students and those families so there's a proper transition for them into the virtual school as well as those students who have opted to remain in in-person," he says.

Spagnuolo says the board is looking for teachers interested in teaching virtually.

"There was a survey put out to elementary teachers to volunteer for the virtual school. It only makes sense to have teachers that are comfortable with virtual teaching and learning to actually offer the program," he says. "We will be meeting with the board to discuss how the staffing of that school will take place."

Spagnuolo says, while there was a virtual school last year, this is still new ground for the union.

"We really don't have any collective agreement language dealing with this kind of staffing situation. So we are working with the board to try to address any concerns that teachers may have and also to develop a process that's fair, that's transparent and that meets the needs for everyone," he adds.

On the high school side of the equation, the public board saw approximately 600 secondary students chose to opt out of in-person learning.

Students are set to return to the classroom Sept. 7.


With files from Rob Hindi