HWDSB asks mayor, Ford and Trudeau for ‘clear and timely decisions’ about remote learning

Hamilton’s public school board is asking all three levels of government for a number of education supports including “clear and timely decisions” about whether remote learning will be extended.

The requests and recommendations appeared in a letter from Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB)  trustees on Monday.

Chair Dawn Danko previously said the province hasn’t given school boards enough time to adjust to extensions to full remote learning. As of right now, students in Hamilton will continue learning virtually until Feb. 10, according to the provincial government, but the province previously said it would provide an update on Jan. 20.

The letter states, “should there be a change, swift communication of this learning model must be done in order to build confidence for our families and help school boards and staff prepare.”

While the letter notes the board wants to collaborate with the city, the province and the federal government, trustees wrote families have had to show “tremendous resilience” since the first appearance of full remote learning in March 2020.

Trustees also say while most are learning remotely, some students receiving special education service attend class in-person.

In the letter, HWDSB ask that educational staff working with those students be given pandemic pay “in recognition of the elevated risk to staff performing the essential work of supporting students with significant special needs during the lockdown and remote period.”

Last week, the board closed Glenwood School, which had 21 students with special needs, after a student tested positive for COVID-19.

The letter also calls on the governments to think about what it can do to bolster support for marginalized families, particularly single mothers.

“Additional barriers are faced by single‐parent families, and by mothers from a gender perspective. Many women experience an increased burden during this pandemic as they balance childcare and work. They are forced to make decisions to take unpaid leaves as the primary caregiver in the home,” the letter reads. 

“We ask all levels of government to consider further supports for marginalized families.”

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