Learning Preferences - Frequently Asked Questions

2023-24 School Year Planning

Isn’t it too early to start planning for the 2023-24 school year? Why do families have to decide on a learning preference by FridayJanuary 27? 

The staffing of schools for 76,000 students is a complex process which requires us to begin planning well in advance. To prepare for September, we need to place 12,000 employees as well as create timetables for our 76,000 students.

Given that there remains a teacher shortage in Ontario, we do not want to delay teacher placements so that we can quickly hire once timetables are complete so that we have qualified teachers ready to greet all classes in September.

In order to respect collective agreements, hiring needs, and our internal processes, we are asking families to make a decision now on learning mode options for the upcoming school year to ensure that we can appropriately staff schools.

We recognize that this may pose a challenge to some families, however, if we 6do not start this process now, there is the possibility that some classes may not be staffed in September. During the 2022-2023 school year, a very small number of families decided to change their child’s learning preference.

DDSB@Home Elementary and Secondary will continue to be run as separate elementary and secondary schools and therefore, early registration is necessary.

Families are asked to carefully consider their options, as selections at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 27 are considered final. 

What happens if a family does not select a learning preference by the Friday, January 27 at 11:59 p.m. deadline? 

If a learning preference selection for 2023-24 is not received by the January 27 at 11:59 p.m. deadline: 

  • All students will default to their current learning mode selection (whether DDSB@Home or in-person) for the 2023-24 school year.


Can my child(ren) learn through DDSB@Home in 2023-24? 
Yes, subject to enrollment in DDSB@Home, the DDSB will continue to offer virtual online learning through DDSB@Home for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. 
What happens if my children select virtual learning for next year and there isn’t sufficient enrollment in DDSB@Home? 
Should sufficient enrollment not be available at the elementary or secondary levels, students would need to attend their in-person designated home school. At the secondary level, we would only be able to develop a timetable for virtual school if there is sufficient enrollment to do so. Communication to those families will occur after the registration process so that they are aware if the virtual school is viable. 
How can I change my child(ren)’s learning preference for next year?

Between Monday, January 16 and Friday, January 27, 2023 at 11:59 p.m., families have the option to visit the Parent Portal to choose what type of learning they want their child(ren) to engage in for the 2023-24 school year:  

  • Virtual learning at home through DDSB@Home; or  

  • In-person learning at their home school.  

Once you sign into the Parent Portal, you will need to click the “Learning Preference” tab located on the left-hand navigation bar to inform us.

We ask that families please consider both options entirely before making their choice, as we will only be offering the option to change your response until Friday, January 27, 2023 at 11:59 p.mThis decision is for the entire year as once schools are staffed, it is unlikely that changes can be made as we will not be re-staffing and re-organizing schools throughout the year.

Why is switching between in-person/virtual learning not an option during the 2023-24 school year? 
It is expected that students will remain in their chosen school (and mode of learning) for the entire school year. Switching between learning modes is a very disruptive process for students and staff, impacting learning and classroom organization.
How do I choose between in-person or virtual learning if my child is new to DDSB/just starting out in Junior Kindergarten and we are not yet registered? 
Elementary students who are entering Junior Kindergarten or are new to DDSB and secondary students who are new to DDSB can select DDSB@Home Elementary or DDSB@Home Secondary from the list of school options on the new student registration form. 
Will virtual learning be offered after the 2023-24 school year?  
At this stage, no decision has been made for school years after 2023-24 and the Ministry of Education has not made a virtual learning option a permanent requirement. We will be consulting with families in the future about learning options in order to make a long-term decision about offering virtual learning. 

Health and Safety

If I choose in-person learning for my child(ren), what will the safety measures in schools look like? 

For students who will be attending school for in-person learning, the DDSB is continuing to follow direction from the Ministry of Education and the Durham Region Health Department. Please see below for a condensed list of the safety measures currently in DDSB schools. These may be subject to change depending on the evolving COVID-19 situation.

  • Masks: As of March 21, 2022 students are no longer required to wear a mask while at school or on school buses.Although the masking requirement has been removed in schools, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly recommends the use of a mask in all public settings, including in schools, child care and on student transportation. Schools are a mask friendly environment and students, visitors, families, and staff are welcome to continue to wear masks while at school and/or on the bus. 

  • Hand Washing: Every classroom will have a sink and soap to wash hands or hand sanitizer will be available to students. 

  • Enhanced Cleaning and Disinfection of Schools: Frequently touched surfaces will continue to be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day throughout the school building. Schools undergo extra cleaning and disinfection at the end of each school day. Soft surfaces that cannot be easily cleaned and disinfected have been removed from classrooms (e.g., plush/absorbent items, upholstered furnishings). 

  • Ventilation and Air Quality: The DDSB is in the fortunate position to have the majority of our buildings fully mechanically ventilated, which means they are equipped with a modern, robust ventilation system. As such, we are able to improve ventilation and air quality in several ways, including installing MERV 13 filters and changing them more frequently, increasing the number of air changes per hour, completing pre- or post-occupancy air purges and running the system a full 2 hours prior to occupancy. In addition, ventilation checks have been completed in every school, and the DDSB has purchased 2,200 portable HEPA air filtration units, which have been installed. These units will enhance ventilation and are installed in various schools across the district. Furthermore, the Ministry of Education has supplied 386 units. For more information about ventilation in DDSB schools, please visit the Ventilation Measures Report page.

If my child(ren) is/are learning in-person, do they have to complete a daily self-assessment before entering the school? 
If your child is sick, please ensure that they stay home to protect everyone at school. We ask that families continue to complete the daily self-screening for accurate guidance on whether your child should attend school.
What will happen if there is a case of COVID-19 in a classroom? How are cases reported? 

The Ministry of Education is no longer collecting COVID-19 case numbers from school boards. Subject to change, the DDSB continues to post publicly reported data on the COVID-19 Advisory page of the DDSB website on the following categories:

  • Number of Staff/Students Absent with Illness (Self-Reported by Staff/Students).
  • Number of Positive COVID-19 Tests Disclosed (Rapid or PCR) (Self-Reported by Staff/Students).
  • School Absenteeism Rates Due to Illness.
  • Schools Closed Due to Operational Needs or by Durham Region Health Department.

When schools become aware of a positive case of COVID-19 through a self-reported PCR or rapid antigen test, they currently notify the school community which class the positive result was from. This is a temporary measure and subject to change. The Ministry of Health has indicated that public health units will no longer be dismissing classes. Instead, parents/guardians and/or students should complete the daily COVID-19 screening tool to determine if they are permitted to return to school. If absences exceed 30% of the school population, we are currently required by the Ministry of Health to inform the Durham Region Health Department who may provide additional direction to the school community.

What will happen if schools are required to close again?  
If the Ministry of Education directs that schools close, your child(ren)’s learning will continue remotely in the same class that they are in until students can return to in-person learning. 
If I decide that I need to remove my child temporarily for safety concerns, or they exhibit any symptoms and shouldn’t be sent back until all symptoms are gone, what happens? 
For children who are learning in-person and are unable to attend school, we will provide schoolwork for them to complete. This follows our regular practice when children are ill. 

Program Structure, Curriculum, and Attendance

Will Gifted and French Immersion programs be offered through DDSB@Home? 

Subject to program demand, French Immersion and Gifted Program will be offered to DDSB@Home Elementary students. Should sufficient enrollment not be available, students would need to attend regular programming in the virtual school. Communication to those families will occur after the registration process so that they are aware if the program is viable.  

Gifted and French Immersion programs will not be offered through DDSB@Home Secondary.

Will the DDSB@Home program have inclusive supports such as Special Education Resource Teachers (SERTS) and Educational Assistants? 
Depending on program demand, special education supports such as SERTs and Educational Assistants will be provided in the DDSB@Home Program.
What will the learning format in DDSB@Home look like? RealTime (Synchronous) or FlexTime (Asynchronous), or both?
The DDSB@Home Elementary and Secondary programs will be a RealTime (Synchronous) and FlexTime (Asynchronous), full day, every day experience. 
Will there be a mix of online and in-person (hybrid) learning for students? 
Currently, we do not anticipate the availability of hybrid learning for students. 
Will students currently attending DDSB@Home who wish to remain in virtual learning be with the same online classmates next year? 
Not necessarily. Class organization will be managed like it is in a regular school which means that classmates and teachers may change. 
Can we switch teachers in a virtual learning classroom? 
As with all schools, classroom assignment is the responsibility of the school principal who has the authority to determine student placement. It is unlikely that students will be able to switch teachers.
Will DDSB@Home students be connected to a “home” school?
In cases where the “home” school provides uploaded newsletters to their webpage, parents/guardians will have the ability to sign up to receive communications through their home school, recognizing that not all school specific communications may be able to be shared. DDSB@Home Elementary and Secondary operate as a complete virtual school.
What platform will be used to deliver online learning and what is required of parents to support students from home during their courses? 
Online learning will be delivered through existing platforms including Google Classroom, Google Meet and D2L Brightspace. Parents or guardians will be required to support their child(ren) learning from home as needed. Parents should expect to provide more support for kindergarten or primary-aged children as their independent skills are not usually as developed as those of older students.
Will Kindergarten be offered through DDSB@Home? If so, what will the course structure and daily content look like?

Yes, Kindergarten will be offered to DDSB@Homestudents.The online Kindergarten program will be structured with RealTime and FlexTime opportunities that are age-appropriate and place a focus on the four frames: demonstrating math and literacy behaviours, belonging and contributing, self-regulation and well-being, and problem-solving and innovating. Students will have daily RealTime interaction with the Kindergarten Educator Team to support their learning and development and may be divided into shorter periods throughout the school day.  

We will be organizing Welcome to Kindergarten sessions for all of our newest and youngest learners.

For online courses, will all classes be recorded and made available for review by parents and students later? For parents working during the day or assisting multiple children with at-home learning, simultaneously assisting live classes may be difficult. 
No. Virtual classes are live and interactive with various students and will not be provided in a recorded format due to privacy concerns. 
Will secondary students be required to fulfill community service/volunteering hours?
Yes, the community involvement graduation requirement of 40 hours was restored in 2022-23.
What are the bell times for the start and end of the school day in DDSB@Home Elementary and Secondary? 
Elementary bell times for the start and end of the school day are currently anticipated to be from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Secondary bell times for the start and end of the school day are currently anticipated to be from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Will Grade 12 students in DDSB@Home Secondary graduate as a DDSB@Home Secondary student or with their designated home school? 
If you are choosing to be at DDSB@Home Secondary for the 2023-24 school year, Grade 12 students will graduate as a DDSB@Home Secondary student and take part in a ceremony through DDSB@Home Secondary for Graduation 2024 and not through the in-person home school.
Will there be EQAO assessments in the 2023-24 school year?
EQAO assessments resumed in the 2021–2022 school year. At this time, we have not received information regarding EQAO requirements for the 2023-2024 school year, however we anticipate they will continue to take place. We will share more information when it becomes available. Please visit https://www.eqao.com/ for additional information and updates.
My child(ren) will attend DDSB@Home, do I still need to report their absence on the days they are not present in the virtual school? 
Yes. Students in the DDSB@Home schools will follow the same process for reporting an absence as students learning in-person. Parents/Guardians, please see the Report an Absence page of the DDSB website for instructions. 


Will the DDSB supply Chromebooks and other technology to students enrolled in DDSB@Home?
The DDSB provides a Chromebook to all students in Grades 7 to 12 as part of our 1:1 model. The DDSB cannot guarantee that all students in DDSB@Home Elementary will be provided a learning device but we have been able to provide one to every student who has required one this school year. Students require a stable internet connection at home and a web-enabled device equipped with a keyboard, camera, and microphone (please note that iPads and smartphones may not serve all the needs of an online classroom). A DDSB Chromebook or device is not a requirement. 


My child(ren) take the bus to school. How will busing work with the enhanced safety protocols? 

The DDSB is working with Durham Student Transportation Services (DSTS) to ensure the cleaning and disinfection of school buses meets expectations outlined by the Durham Region Health Department and Ministry of Health. For more information, please visit the DSTS website. 

If you have additional questions please contact DSTS: