HWDSB families will find out next Thursday if students will go back to classrooms after the April break

·2 min read

Families with Hamilton’s public school board will find out next Thursday whether students will learn in-person or remotely after the April break.

In an April 8 letter to families, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) said public health “will review the status of COVID-19 cases in our community to determine if there needs to be a move to remote learning when we return.”

The HWDSB says it will communicate the decision with parents on the evening of April 15.

If schools close to in-person learning, a transition will take place for all students.

A transition for elementary students would take place over two days, April 19 and 20. For secondary and remote students, there would be a one-day transition on April 19.

“This means schools will be closed and, like an inclement weather day, there will be no instruction,” a letter from HWDSB chair Dawn Danko and education director Manny Figueiredo reads. “Staff will use this time to deploy devices to families, connect with students and plan for remote learning.”

An April 8 letter from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board also warned of a “possible move to online learning after the spring break,” but did not specify when families would be notified.

In an email to The Spectator, board chair Pat Daly said parents and staff would be notified “as soon as we are informed by the ministry or public health.”

The break is scheduled for April 12 to 16, with instruction expected to resume on April 19. Both boards are asking students to take personal belongings home at the end of this week in order to prepare for a possible shift to remote learning.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Wednesday that schools would remain open amid a four-week provincewide stay-at-home order. But section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act gives local medical officers of health the authority to order school closures in their region.

Amid a surge of COVID-19 cases, some school boards — including Peel, Toronto and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph — have closed schools in the week leading up to April break.

Hamilton’s medical officer of health, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, told The Spectator on Wednesday that public health is monitoring “closely” COVID-19 in the community.

Assessment centres and pharmacies currently offering testing will offer asymptomatic testing to students and educators during the break.

Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator