OCDSB trustee's motion would delay start of the school year to Sept. 14
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa-Carleton District School Board trustee will be asking her fellow trustees to delay the start of the school year.
Donna Blackburn will introduce a motion at a special board meeting on Tuesday asking that the OCDSB delay the start of the school year until Sept. 14.
The current first day of school is Sept. 3, though the OCDSB says it plans to stagger start days over the two weeks between Sept. 3 and Sept. 17 for different grades.
Speaking to CTV News Ottawa, Blackburn said teachers don't feel the three professional development days at the start of the year will be enough to prepare them for school in the age of COVID-19.
"I'm hearing from lots of teachers that three days is simply not enough to prepare to receive students," Blackburn said. "I want teachers at both panels to feel confident in what they're doing when they receive students. Teachers at the elementary panel want to be able to plan what they're going to be able to do in their classrooms when so many of the resources that they're accustomed to having in their classrooms have been removed.
"At the secondary level, if we're going to have remote learning—which, clearly we are—that that learning be meaningful and the students be highly engaged in it and the teachers need more time to prepare those materials."
Blackburn isn't the first trustee to suggest delaying the start of the year. Speaking on CTV Morning Live on Aug. 18, Trustee Lynn Scott said she would like to see the start of the year delayed.
"I would be saying probably give us time," Scott said, when asked what message she had for Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce. "The minister has made it fairly clear he's prepared to be fairly flexible about staggered start times at the beginning of the school year, but there has been no indication yet that the start of the school year would be delayed."
Blackburn says plans are still shifting and changing regularly with the first day of school approaching.
On Monday, the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority (OSTA) said it would not be ready to provide yellow school bus transportation until at least Sept. 14.
Blackburn says that's just another reason to delay the start of the year.
"It makes sense that, given what OSTA has announced today, it does add credence to my argument," she said. "I've looked at what other boards have done and some of them have gone with the eighth and then staggered entry. I've put the motion on the floor and we'll debate it. […] I need to put it out there and have this debate because the third isn't acceptable to anyone, or very few people."
Blackburn says she's confident school will not start on Sept. 3, but adds if it's not on Sept. 14, it will be decided by the majority of her colleagues.
The OCDSB meets Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. on Zoom.