The Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) says after consulting with the Ministry of Education, some changes are coming next month for in-class high school schedules.
As part of measures in place to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, secondary school students currently go to school for three days and then spend two days learning at home, then go back to school for two days and study at home for three days and so on.
However, officials say the feedback they’ve received is that the current setup has students away from their teacher and classroom for too long.
“We’ve learned a lot through the first quadmester in our in-person secondary schools and we’re always reflecting on our plans and always looking for ways to improve,” said associate director Riley Culhane.
“It has been challenging in particular for students to be at home for three consecutive days learning content on their own without those face-to-face opportunities.”
Starting Nov. 17, students will be in the physical classroom every other day.
“It really allows more frequent face-to-face time between students and teachers,” Culhane explained at Tuesday evening’s board meeting.
“The change will allow for students to be in class when they are learning new content with their teacher and then on the off day when they’re at home, that’s the day where they may do some practice, may consolidate some of the learning, and then prepare for the next day. So they’re not at home for consecutive days in a row and expected to learn new content on their own.”
In addition to changing when students will be in secondary schools, the board also announced changes to the daily in-school schedule.
Right now, students have 120 minutes of instruction, then lunch, then another 120 minutes of instruction and an opportunity for study hall for those who choose to use it. Also starting Nov. 17, the schedule will be adjusted to increase the amount of instruction in the morning.
“This also will allow our students to have their lunch at a more reasonable time during the day,” Culhane explained.
“We are front-loading the instruction in the morning with staggered breaks for our students, then all students will have lunch, then there will be study hall after lunch.”
Students are allowed to leave the premises for lunch if they decide to do so, he added.
“There’s no change in our start time in the morning or our end time in the afternoon, we are just reorganizing the daily schedule for our secondary students.”
The school boards also says there will be no final examinations “as a result of the condensed time frame in which courses are being completed within five weeks.” Students’ final grades will be based off work completed during the term and designated exam days will instead be used for in-class instruction and student support time.
Culhane says the board will be providing more information to parents and guardians in the coming weeks.