OTTAWA -- Ottawa's French Catholic school board says it "underestimated" the number of families that would be interested in enrolling in online learning in September.

In a letter to parents, the Conseil des ecoles catholiques du Centre-Est says parents of 1,700 students have indicated they are interested in the Virtual Learning Academy offered by the board during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In June, the CECCE launched the "Virtual Learning Academy" to serve students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 whose parents want full-time online learning at the start of the 2020-21 school year.  The board asked parents to fill out a form to opt for the online learning before July 17.

In a letter to parents, CECCE director of education Rejean Sirois said the board expected about 400 to 500 students to sign up for the Virtual Learning Academy.

"Unfortunately, the administration underestimated the interest families would have in the way that online education was delivered," writes Sirois.

"To this end, more than 1,300 families representing 1,700 students have indicated their interest in enrolling their children in the Virtual Learning Academy program."

The CECCE is now following up with families to confirm their interest in online learning for September.

The French Catholic school board says it will release its "Return to Class Guide" no later than Monday, August 10. It will include plans for elementary and secondary schools in September.

Parents have until Thursday, August 13 to decide whether to enrol their kids in the Virtual Learning Academy in September.