Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

The Toronto District School Board says the policy was introduced because of the struggle students have been exposed to when switching in and out of virtual learning.Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press

Students and experts say they are pleased that Canada’s largest school board will not let lower grades in the last piece of the first semester of this academic year affect high school students’ grades after the period was disrupted by the latest wave of COVID-19.

In a note sent to parents late Thursday, the Toronto District School Board said final grades for high school students would only reflect the work they did until Dec. 17 – the last day of school before the winter break. The final assignments that students solve in January only count if the results have a positive effect on a student’s grade.

“This means that a student’s grade will not decrease as a result of the end of semester evaluations,” the letter said.

The board said the policy was introduced because of the struggle students have been exposed to when switching in and out of virtual learning, and to address the possibility of increased absenteeism due to the Omicron variant of COVID- 19.

“Students have already completed nearly 90 percent of the semester,” said TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird. “By ensuring that grades do not fall below pre-winter levels, we ensure that this uncertain period of distance learning with an increased number of COVID-19-related absences and isolation periods does not adversely affect a student’s final grades.”

Ontario school boards are warning of potential last-minute cancellations during the COVID-19 rise

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Personal learning resumes in Ontario on Monday after the provincial government switched to online learning following the rise in COVID-19 cases during the winter break.

Meanwhile, the District School Board of Niagara said teachers can use their judgment when it comes to how final assignments this semester affect an overall grade.

“At the District School Board of Niagara, work submitted by students in January will be considered in its final nature; however, teachers are encouraged to also consider the individual student’s needs, unique circumstances, and how a student has demonstrated their learning through throughout the semester in general, ”said DSBN spokeswoman Carolyn LoConte.

Stephanie Chitpin, a professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Education, said TDSB’s policies are imperative to ensure students are not adversely affected by their mental health and circumstances beyond their control.

“We put a lot of emphasis on assessment in relation to the final grade, but I think what we need to focus on is the well-being of our students,” said Prof. Chitpin, who has previously worked as a school principal. .

“We can not assess students at the expense of their mental health.”

Supporting students through this period will be more beneficial in the long run than putting pressure on final assignments or exams, she said.

Maya Raff, a 16-year-old high school student attending Northern Secondary School in Toronto, said she was relieved when she heard about the TDSB decision.

She has juggled two final projects for each of her courses and said the rule will allow her to breathe and prioritize which tasks are most important to her.

She said it was stressful to deal with last-minute shifts between virtual and personal learning, especially at the end of a semester.

“I’m okay with virtual and personal,” Ms. Raff.

“But switching back and forth really quickly throws your whole schedule off, and once you get used to one and switch back to the other, the task requirements change, so it’s really annoying.”

However, the 11-year-old is also worried about how her first experience with the exam will go when the pandemic disappears.

“I have not done an exam in my life,” said Ms. Raff. “So I have no idea what it’s like to have to remember everything you do for an entire year on a stressful test.”

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