Global News has learned that not all students in the Thames Valley District School Board will have access to technology to join class virtually starting Wednesday, with lower-income students possibly being impacted the most.
The president of the Thames Valley Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario told Global News the union received reports that a number of schools have been informed by the TVDSB that not all students will have the technology they need to start virtual classes Wednesday.
“They are kind of scrambling, I think, to make sure students have some technology,” Craig Smith said.
“They are basically filling in gaps right now, and the message that seems to have been conveyed to a number of schools is that not every student may receive technology, and there may be some expectations that siblings in the same household may have to share what technology they have.”
Smith noted this lack of resources will create inequity for some schools and even in families around who gets access to what they need.
This comes a day after the Ontario government announced that students would pivot to virtual learning with rising COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant. The announcement came less than a week after the province said it would not be moving students online.
A teacher who wishes to remain anonymous to protect their job told Global News they are worried about what this means for low-income students.
“This is heartbreaking because in a lot of low socio-economic areas of our town we have multiple students living in homes who need devices, and now we are going to get to choose which child gets to participate, and which child gets to be completely isolated and alone while the other gets to learn for an hour.”
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The teacher, who was the first to contact Global News with their concerns about the lack of access to technology, said they teach in an elementary school with a lot of low-income families. They said the news came from the TVDSB and upset a lot of teachers.
When asked about the shortage, the TVDSB superintendent in charge of the technology rollout said the board is working as quickly as possible.
“We are committed to making sure our priority in Thames Valley is to ensure every student is supported in our move to online learning,” Sheila Powell said.
Powell said all families in need should reach out to their child’s school via phone or email to request help.
“We will endeavour to ensure that every student who requires a device that does not have one will be deployed a device as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Powell said.
While they don’t know how many students will require devices with requests still coming in, Powell said the board will work to make sure all students get what they need.
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