Waterloo Catholic school board looking for more teachers for virtual learning

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board is looking for more teachers for its virtual classes after higher-than-expected enrolment.

St. Isidore, the WCDSB's virtual school, starts Thursday. The average class size is 37.5 students.

"It seems a little high," parent Becky Kieswetter said. "I don't think we would see that typically under normal circumstances, but these are not normal circumstances.

Kieswetter has three children registered at St. Isidore. The province gave families the choice to return to the classroom or opt for virtual learning to start the school year this September.

The WCDSB said around 3,249 students have signed up for online learning -- 2,401 in elementary and 848 in secondary.

The board said it needed to move 53 teachers from in-class to virtual learning to handle the load. The WCDSB is also still looking to hire 24 elementary teachers and 13 secondary teachers.

Class sizes at St. Isidore are much larger than anticipated.

"If we could get to 30, between 25 and 30, I think that would be a much more comfortable level than where we are right now," said Loretta Notten, director of education at the WCDSB.

The board said finding teachers has been an issue. Patrick Etmanski, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Waterloo Unit, agreed with the concerns.

"I'm sure teachers aren't going to want to get in line to do that particular jobs with classes that big," Etmanski said.

The board also said it's looking for in-class teachers who want to make the move to virtual school.

The Kieswetters know that it's uncharted territory and have adjusted their expectations accordingly.

"We just have to be patient and understanding and take it as it comes," Kieswetter said.

Families within the Catholic school board will have the option to transition from virtual to in-class learning, and vice versa, around Thanksgiving.