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Centralized virtual schools and synchronous delivery in Ontario

September 21, 2020

Original Article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/e-learning-fall-update-1.5695047

Myriad Canadians got a rough introduction to online education when the pandemic closed classrooms this spring and forced educators into rapid implementation of "emergency learning at home." 

Now, as Canadian school districts grapple with a physical return to class in September, many are making plans for remote instruction, too. 

In response, Canada's largest school board is centralizing its virtual operation, which will have a dedicated superintendent, principals, vice-principals and teachers teaching the Ontario curriculum remotely.

Unlike the ad-hoc solutions put in place when the pandemic hit, school boards say they're intentionally creating virtual schools with separate, dedicated staff adhering to the same curriculum as their in-class peers. 

"[The last school year] was essentially making do under tremendously difficult circumstances," said Bird. "This is a fully online virtual school."

Looking to the fall, e-learning specialist Marina Milner-Bolotin foresees several challenges, beginning with technological concerns for both students and teachers — everything from familiarity with online tools to reliable internet connections and access to devices.

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