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Ontario school boards prep for back-to-school with additional supports for in-school learning

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WATCH: With only a little more than a month left before kids head back to school, the Ministry of Education is working on a plan for students who may need additional support after years of classroom interruptions during the pandemic – Jul 28, 2022

With only a little more than a month left before kids head back to school, the Ministry of Education is working on a plan for students who may need additional support after years of classroom interruptions during the pandemic.

The Ministry of Education has promised a full return to in-person learning for fall 2022 which may prove difficult for some, according to Limestone District School Board Superintendent Alison McDonnell.

“We have definitely heard that there are some gaps in learning that were not necessarily as prevalent previous to the pandemic and I think that makes sense when we take a look at the number of times over the last couple of years that students have had to transition into a variety of different modes of learning,” she said.

Read more: Ontario education minister wants extracurriculars offered in September

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“Right now I think what’s most important is social and emotional development of the children. Reading, writing, all of that will come, but if they’re not socially and emotionally ready to be in school, then they can’t learn the other things,” added early childhood educator and CUPE Local 1480 president Erin Prevost.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce re-announced the ministry’s funding for tutoring programs and additional supports Monday which includes $1.6 million to the Limestone District School Board, and $300,000 for mental health supports.

“Limestone, for next year, has been able to increase its staffing allocation in a number of different areas, in both regulated and non-regulated support staff,” said McDonnell.

This includes 1.6 additional full-time  social work positions and additional funding for student support counsellors and adolescent care workers.

“Every child learns on a different day and in a different way and that requires a team of folks being there to support that learning in a variety of different ways, and in a way that works,” said Ontario School Board Council of Unions president Laura Walton.

Read more: Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board budget cuts 11 front-line worker jobs

“One teacher couldn’t manage the children’s needs that need to be met and the learning needs, it’s just not tenable. So, to lose the support workers in the classrooms is a huge loss for education, and a huge loss for students who are already struggling,” added Prevost.

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Money from the ministry began funding 61 literacy and math tutors for LDSB last spring and now includes summer programs with community partners like the Boys and Girls Club, KEYS and Pathways to Education.

“If there are families who have some significant concerns about their child’s learning gap, I would highly recommend that they reach out to their child’s school and have a conversation with their child’s school around what supports might be in place in the 2022 school year,” said McDonnell.

This means the best place to start when looking for help address learning gaps for children is with their own teachers.

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