Students at schools in high-risk Toronto neighbourhoods are opting for remote learning
Early school registration numbers from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) show a big difference between in-class enrolment between low-income and wealthier neighbourhoods in the city.
The registration results survey compiles the responses of parents and guardians for 247,583 students (173,220 elementary and 74,363 secondary) and sorts the responses into in-school or virtual learning based on what they registered for this fall.
According to the results released on September 3, wealthier neighbourhoods are more likely to have students enrolled for in-school learning than low-income or working class neighbourhoods.
In-class learning enrolment is consistently above 80 per cent for neighbourhoods like Forest Hill, The Beaches, Rosedale, etc.
Meanwhile, in low-income neighbourhoods enrolment for in-class learning rarely goes above 50 per cent.
For example, at Yorkwoods Public School, which is located in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood, only 37 per cent of students enrolled for in-class learning.
In comparison, 85 per cent of students enrolled for in-class learning at Rosethorn Junior School in South Etobicoke.
The pattern is similar to how COVID-19 disproportionately affected neighbourhoods in Toronto.
Of the 81 schools deemed at high-risk for COVID-19 by Toronto Public Health almost half have less than 50 per cent of students returning to class.
However, it's worth noting that the disparity could be in part due to the difference in response rates to the TDSB survey.
In total, 89 per cent of elementary and secondary students responded. However, response rate varies widely.
TDSB spokesperson, Ryan Bird, told City News that it's too early to say why we're seeing the difference in enrolment.
The survey results show that for both elementary and secondary school registration for in-person learning is averaging at more than 70 per cent.
The TDSB says schools are now in the process of reaching out directly to parents and guardians who did not respond to the registration emails or phone calls.
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