High school students in the Toronto District School Board will be able to choose to attend a virtual school in the 2023-24 school year, the board said in a message to parents on Thursday that described it as a choice of learning models and not a pandemic response.

Regular programs and Intensive Support Programs (ISPs) will be available at virtual secondary school, depending on available space, the TDSB said, adding a decision on whether to offer virtual learning for elementary students has not yet been made.

Applications for the school year starting in September will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Jan. 27 on the board’s out-of-area admissions and virtual learning websites, said Linda Edwards, a centrally assigned principal for virtual learning and re-engagement, in the note.

“The choice of virtual learning continues to be a choice in learning models rather than a pandemic response,” she said.

Ontario students dealt with the longest school closures in the country in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with experts warning that disruption to in-person learning has caused some students to fall behind academically and has stunted their social development.

The provincial government mandated a virtual school option be offered by all boards up to the 2021-22 school year.

It also requires all students who entered Grade 9 in the 2020-21 school year or later to earn at least two online learning credits in order to get their diploma, unless they opt out or are exempted.

The TDSB virtual school does not meet this requirement, Edwards said.

Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer

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