What is hybrid learning? It is a model of learning used by some school boards in Ontario during the pandemic where students are participating in a class simultaneously in one of two ways – some are the physical classroom in person, while other students are participating in the class remotely from home through a webcam in the classroom. This divides the attention of educators between those students in the classroom and those students that appear on a computer screen.
While some students have managed the challenges of the pandemic well, many have had a harder time. Despite the best efforts of Ontario’s educators to ensure our students have had access to the academic, emotional, and mental health supports they need, hybrid learning has created a fractured learning environment, forcing educators to split their time and attention between in-person and remote students while limiting access the one-on-one supports our students need to succeed. This model hurts the students trying to learn from home and the students trying to learn in person.
School boards had the option to set up temporary virtual schools during the pandemic to provide learning for the few students who wanted to learn from home. Many school boards have temporary virtual schools, but some boards do not, opting for using a hybrid model of learning instead.
Some boards have rightly recognized the detrimental impact of hybrid learning on students. But, with hybrid learning, teachers and education workers cannot give students the individual attention they need, especially those students who require additional supports to succeed. Some boards are ignoring this fact, and continue to use the hybrid model.
When we know the model doesn’t work, we can’t consider it as a sound education model. Our students deserve a return to normal. And a return to normal cannot mean a return to status quo — it must mean a return to safe, in-person learning.