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Exemptions From Synchronous Learning

Request to be Exempt from the Minimum Requirements of Synchronous (Live, Interactive) Learning

Using Policy/Program Memorandum No. 164, (PPM 164) the Ministry of Education as a guide, this process explains the procedures for students engaged in remote learning to apply for an exemption from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning (see table below). Individual requests for an exemption from the minimum requirements for synchronous (live, interactive) learning will be made to superintendents (or their designate) through the online form or by submitting a hard copy form (located here) to the school where the virtual learning class is being hosted. Superintendents (or their designate) will then review all requests and respond in writing to all applicants. Approved exemptions will be stored in the student’s Ontario Student Record. Applicants will have an opportunity to request an exemption up to February 2022 or for the entire 2021/2022 school year.

Expectations for Synchronous (live, Interactive) Learning by Grade
Division Grade Level of Students Daily Minimum Synchronous (Live, Interactive) Learning Time Requirement*
Elementary Kindergarten 180 minutes
Grades 1 to 3 225 minutes
Grades 4 to 8 225 minutes
Secondary Grades 9 to 12 The higher of 60 minutes for each 75-minute class period** or 225 minutes per day for a full course schedule

* This is in addition to asynchronous (independent) learning time.
** The synchronous (live, interactive) learning time requirement for any period that is not 75 minutes should be adjusted to reflect this ratio.

Exemptions from synchronous (live, interactive) learning may be requested by parents/guardians or by students who are 18 years of age or older, or students who are 16 or 17 years of age but have withdrawn from parental control. In accordance with  Policy/Program Memorandum No. 164, this form is applicable to students enrolled in a virtual learning option (elementary or secondary) within the TDSB. This exemption process is not available to students that opted for physical (in-person) elementary or secondary school nor homeschooling. A separate application must be submitted for each student requesting an exemption.

To support meaningful access to education, alternative learning approaches will be put in place for all exempted students. Exempted students will be provided with a daily schedule or timetable in accordance with the 300-minute instructional day.  

Expectations for Exempted Students

  • Daily Schedule: Exempted students must follow the daily schedule or timetable provided by teachers in accordance with the 300-minute instructional day. This would include opportunities to independently access and complete work within Brightspace or another agreed upon method. While teachers will provide the same daily schedule or timetable to students enrolled in a specific program of study, it will be the responsibility of students that have opted for an exemption to increase their engagement in asynchronous (independent) learning accordingly.
  • Learning Materials and Work Completion: Students will be provided with programming based on the full Ontario curriculum and will follow the expectations the teacher has set out for the class. These materials will be provided through the Brightspace Learning Management System, Google Classroom or another agreed upon method (e.g., phone conferences, e-mails) that is based on the individual student's needs, circumstances and the grade/courses in which they are enrolled. This will ensure an effective link between instruction, assessment, reporting and pedagogy and provide TDSB students of all identities with enhanced opportunities to demonstrate the full extent of their learning. All students that have been granted an exemption from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning will be responsible for maintaining contact with their teachers as well as making arrangements with their teachers to complete and return tasks and assessments as assigned.
  • Attendance: Students are expected to meet the mandatory attendance requirements.
  • Partial Exemptions: Attendance will be taken twice daily (AM and PM), in accordance with TDSB elementary and secondary attendance procedures.
  • Full Exemptions: Attendance will be recorded twice weekly on Tuesdays (for Monday and Tuesday) and Fridays (for Wednesday to Friday). Students with a full exemption may be marked present if they have been engaged with their teacher in one or more of the following ways: submission of work at least once weekly, phone conferences, or other communications such as Brightspace, Google Classroom, emails, etc.
  • Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting: While the policy outlined in  Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools  (2010) continues to apply to all TDSB students who have been approved for an exemption from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning, Growing Success: The Mathematics Addendum, Grades 1 to 8, 2020 will supersede the instructions on completing the provincial report card for mathematics in Grades 1 to 8. Teachers will clearly outline and make available to students digitally, the assessment expectations at the start of each program of study. Teachers will continue to provide differentiated support to all students, including English and French as a Second Language Learners and students with special education needs who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Students will complete and submit within Brightspace or Google Classroom the assignments and assessments required for successful completion of the program of study or courses in which they are enrolled.

Requests for Synchronous (Live, Interactive) Learning Exemptions

The intent of accommodating students through exemptions is to allow for flexibility in addressing the varied needs of school communities and greater support for the overall mental health and well-being of TDSB staff, students and families. While synchronous (live, interactive) learning exemptions offer some flexibility to individual students, they also require an increase in the number of asynchronous (independent) minutes in which each exempted student engages daily.  In accordance with the teacher's professional judgement, this may involve watching pre-recorded video lessons, completing assigned tasks, or contributing to online discussion boards. In some cases, access to asynchronous (independent) learning opportunities may be delivered through emails or telephone calls.

Ensuring that the student maintains contact with the classroom teacher and completion and submission of instructional and assessment tasks as assigned are essential components of a synchronous (live, interactive) exemption. Attendance for students of compulsory school age is required under the Education Act. In order to maximize opportunities for student success, student absences will be addressed in accordance with the Education Act, and related Ministry of Education policies as outlined by the TDSB in  Policy P085 - Student Attendance and Safe Arrival and the Ministry of Education  Enrolment Register Instructions for Elementary and Secondary Schools  document. Therefore, absences of 15 consecutive school days without supporting documentation could result in a student being retired from the attendance register. 

Failure to meet the mandatory attendance, work completion and assessment expectations is inconsistent with an exemption from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning and align instead with an intent for homeschooling as outlined in the  TDSB Homeschooling Policy. Parents/guardians wishing to homeschool a child must submit a Notice of Intent to Home School (Form 553A) to the Family of Schools Superintendent for their homeschool.

Application Deadline

Exemption requests will be accepted twice for the 2021/2022 school year by 4:00 PM on the following dates:

Elementary and Secondary application deadlines are: September 30, 2021 and February 28, 2022.

Renewals/extensions: if your previously approved exemption request has expired or is approaching its expiry date and wish to renew/extend your exemption please submit a new exemption request as soon as possible through the same online form linked above.

Learning Switches: During the 2021/2022 school year, students will be provided with a single opportunity to switch between virtual and in-person learning in February 2022.

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