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Thousands of DDSB students join growing waitlist to transfer to at-home learning

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As case numbers rise in schools across the region, thousands of students within the DDSB are on a waiting list to transfer to at-home learning.

As coronavirus case numbers rise in schools across the region, thousands of students in the Durham District School Board are on a waiting list to transfer to at-home learning.

The DDSB tells Global News there are 3,447 students on the waitlist. Among those students, 2,873 are in elementary school.

The deadline for elementary school students to apply to transfer is Oct. 5, with the transfer beginning Nov. 16. Secondary students are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

The board says there are also 153 students on a separate waitlist to go back to in-person learning.

Pine Ridge Secondary School student Rea Bacchus is currently on the list, leaving her uneasy and frustrated. The school has reported two cases of COVID-19 since it opened.

Read more: What students in London, Ont., can expect from online learning

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Rea says she feels uncomfortable “especially in the stairways because we aren’t really social distancing, it’s packed and it’s not really safe.”

“It’s frustrating knowing that by the time I switch it won’t even matter.”

Crystal Hussey says her son, who attends the school, is “nervous about going to school.”

“And as the numbers go up, I’m nervous about sending him,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ajax mother of two Suzi Panovska-Guarassi says she was able to recently transfer her five-year-old son, Stefan, to online learning to protect her family.

“I myself have an autoimmune disease and my oldest son has autism, is non-verbal and developmentally delayed,” she said.

“I’m concerned whether he catches COVID as well, and he’s unable to tell me.”

Read more: Coronavirus — Latest developments in the Greater Toronto Area on Sept. 25

Panovska-Guarrasi’s oldest son Frankie, 7, was already learning from home. However, now with another child in the mix, the Ajax mother says things will be arduous.

“It’s difficult,” she said.

“I not only have to be a mom, a housewife, a caregiver to my son with autism and my little guy (Stefan), I also have to be a teacher.”

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Nonetheless, the mom of two says she’s grateful Stefan was able to make the switch. However, Panovska-Guarrasi is raising concerns about expenses that come with homeschooling.

“I have to buy a tablet, some people have to buy a desk — there’s all these costs that are associated with that.”

Watch: TDSB virtual school delays will continue through to next week