A grade six class room is pictured in this September 14, 2020 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

York Catholic District School Board says it is changing its teaching model for elementary students, combining in-person students with those in virtual learning into one class starting next week due to staffing problems.

In a letter to parents on Wednesday, Interim Director of Education Mary Battista said the new hybrid model will see online students join face-to-face learners in their classroom through a live stream.

“Given the various operational and staffing challenges faced in the current remote learning model, and the need to find a solution that is sustainable for the remainder of the school year, a decision has been made in the best interest of all elementary students,” Battista said.

The director said the new model has benefits, which includes keeping remote students in their home with their friends, maintaining physical distancing in the classroom, and offering a seamless transition from in-class to remote learning or vice-versa.

To allow for the transition to the new model, YCDSB said all of its elementary schools will be closed on Oct. 13.

The new hybrid model will begin the next day.

“We understand that this is very short notice for parents and apologize for the inconvenience and disruption this may cause. This day will be used by staff to complete the necessary preparations to welcome face to face and remote learners to their classrooms,” Battista said.

The board said the new classroom teacher will reach out to online students on Oct. 13 to provide their login information.

“It is our firm belief that this format will better serve our students’ educational needs, re-establish links with classmates and promote positive mental health,” Battista said.