Both the public and Catholic school boards in Windsor-Essex have extended the deadline to request a change in elementary students’ current learning model.

The Wednesday, Jan. 6 at 4 p.m. deadline continues to apply for GECDSB secondary students, while the extension applies to both high school and elementary WECDSB students.

“Hopefully that will make people feel a little bit more comfortable,” said Erin Kelly, WECDSB director of education. “Though I will say there will be no good time to make change in this chaotic sort of challenging time. We are trying to be responsive to parents particularly who have to think about such things such as childcare and safety.”

Officials said they are waiting for a further update to the current status of schools in the region.

The Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed ordered schools closed for in-class learning starting on Dec. 14, a week before the two-week winter break.

A province-wide order was issued for elementary students to do online learning until at least Jan. 11 and secondary students until Jan. 25.

Ahmed said he will release updated recommendations for schools on Thursday.

Families of elementary students now have longer to decide if they want to do online learning for the rest of the year or return to the classroom when permitted. Officials say the delay allows them to make a more informed decision whether to switch or remain in their current learning model.

“We’ve left it kind of an open date when we’ll make more decisions once we learn sort of where we are at,” Kelly said.

She said the board has received some calls and emails from parents with concerns about the original date, noting it is a difficult decision no matter which deadline is selected.

“The thing is of course we have to organize the school system and when you bring new students in or new students out, you have to re-organize classes which can be challenging but yet we did try to listen to the parents particularly around this timeframe that we’ve been seeing in the last week,” she said. “We’re seeing things a little bit more challenging in our community.”

Jane McArthur is one of the many concerned parents who penned a letter to the public school board voicing her concerns.

“It’s one the unfortunate things about the situation we are in,” she said. “We’ve had to sit with baited breath waiting on what’s going to happen these kind of decisions that impact our lives.”

When a new deadline has been established, the change in learning online forms will be reposted on both boards’ websites and families will be given notice.

Any families that have previously submitted the form will have the opportunity to change their choice at that time.