Hamilton elementary classes might not start on time if students don’t have technology, public board says

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The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board says elementary classes might not start as scheduled after the holiday break if the board cannot distribute remote learning technology on time.

In an interview with The Spectator, HWDSB director Manny Figueiredo said the board is still waiting on a shipment of at least 1,000 devices for the roughly 6,000 elementary students who need them to learn remotely when schools begin virtually on Jan. 4.

The board is also rushing to distribute their inventory of iPads and computers to families following the province’s announcement on Monday that schools would be shuttered come January, prompting concern among teachers and staff that not all students will be able to collect their devices in time.

Though remote classes are supposed to begin Jan. 4, Figueiredo says the board might wait if there are still devices outstanding.

“We have to see how things look by Jan. 4,” Figeuiredo told The Spectator on Dec. 23. “We’re working on getting these devices to families right now — but, Jan. 4, there might not be full remote learning on the very first day if we still have to get devices to people.”

The province’s decision to apply further lockdown measures across the province extends to schools, where teachers and staff have been instructed to provide remote learning to students when the second semester begins.

Elementary schools are supposed to offer remote learning between Jan. 4 and 11, while secondary schools are supposed to provide remote learning until Jan. 25. As of the Dec. 21’s announcement, the schools will be allowed to reopen following those dates.

Figueiredo said the announcement prompted the HWDSB to recall school staff and principals following the beginning of the holiday break last Friday to prepare for remote learning. The staff have been tasked with assessing their schools’ inventory of devices and making arrangements to distribute them to families.