The president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation District 9 has asked the Greater Essex County District School Board to briefly delay the start of fall classes to give teachers more time to prepare. As of early Friday afternoon, few if any of the teachers scheduled to teach virtual classes to around 3,000 students on Monday knew what courses they were scheduled to teach, Erin Roy told CBC. Some teachers scheduled to teach in classrooms were also unaware, she added. "Our new model calls for period one for nearly four hours in a day," Roy said. "Not knowing what you're teaching, it's going to be a long four hours... " Teachers are putting in long days getting ready for the start of school, she said, adding that she personally has worked 12 to 18 hour days.
"We're just running out of time," she said. "It's a lot of work to adjust 25 per cent of students to virtual school." Roy has previously asked the board privately to delay the start of classes, she said. But she took to Twitter on Friday to make the request public. She understands that there is public pressure to get kids back to class, she added, but she has not received a satisfactory response from the board as to why classes couldn't be delayed even a day or so. "We're running out of time," she said. "I'm not asking for a long delay. ... "a day or two just so that people can understand what they're teaching and have some time to wrap their head around it." Roy said she's never seen so many tears among members. "We're very deflated," she said. "We're trying. We really are. This is a pandemic, I get it. Everybody's got to adjust. But there's just so much, like, a single person can do." Asked to comment on the union's request, Greater Essex County District School Board spokesperson Scott Scantlebury wrote to CBC in an email, "All I can tell you is that we will continue to follow the staggered start schedule for all students as it has been constructed."
Much of the blame for the lack of preparedness rests with the Ministry of Education, Roy said.
"The ministry changed the rules over the summer," she said. "We were working very much so with the board up until about Aug. 18 on one model, and then since then the model has changed twice."
CBC has reached out to the Ministry of Education for a response but has not yet received one.