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Exemption from Synchronous Learning

Request to be Exempt from the Minimum Requirements of Synchronous Learning

Through Policy/Program Memorandum No. 164, (PPM 164) the Ministry of Education has provided direction to school boards on the requirements of remote learning. Included in these requirements is a mandatory expectation that school boards develop a process that would allow 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 to the homeschool. Superintendents (or their designate) will then review all requests, make a decision about individual exemption requests and respond in writing to all exemption requests. Approved exemptions will be stored in the student’s Ontario Student Record. Applicants will now have the option to extend existing previously approved exemption requests or to select an expiration date that could extend to the end of the 2020/2021 school year. 


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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parents/guardians or by students who are 18 years of age or older, or students who are 16 or 17 years of age but have withdrawn from parental control.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 with the TDSB (e.g., the TDSB Virtual School, secondary home school Virtual Learning Option, Learning Network Virtual Learning Hub, as well as secondary students enrolled in the Adapted In-school Day Model). This exemption process is not available to students that opted for physical (in-person) elementary school nor homeschooling. A separate application must be submitted for each student requesting an exemption.  

For secondary students registered in the Adapted In-school Day Model, a full exemption from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning applies only to the online synchronous (live, interactive) portion of the school day.  Exemptions do not apply to the in-person portion of the Adapted In-school Day Model of instruction. Attendance in the in-class instructional component of this model is mandatory for secondary students. 

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 their teacher in accordance with the 300-minute instructional day. This would require students to independently access and complete work provided by the classroom teacher within Brightspace, Google Classroom or another agreed upon method based on extenuating circumstances, and where there are special education needs, medical reasons, and other reasons not limited to sensory, vision, visible and invisible disabilities, developmental reasons, mental health, trauma, religion/creed, family status etc. 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: 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, emails) that is based on the individual student's needs and circumstances.
  • Daily Attendance: See below for further details on the attendance procedures for students that have been granted partial and full exemptions from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning. When full exemptions from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning have been granted, teachers will use their professional judgment, and work with students and their parent(s)/guardian(s), (where applicable) to maintain ongoing contact.   
    • Partial Exemptions: Attendance will be taken twice daily at the elementary level and per course at the secondary level, 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 to students the assessment expectations at the start of each program of study. This will be posted in an Assessment and Evaluation folder within the Brightspace or Google Classroom (where applicable). 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 085 – 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 Home Schooling Policy. Parents/guardians wishing to home school a child must submit a Notice of Intent to Home School (Form 553A) to the Family of Schools Superintendent for their home school.

Fully Exempted Students and Access to Materials
All students that have been granted a partial or full exemption from the minimum requirements of synchronous (live, interactive) learning will continue to be provided equity of access within Brightspace or Google Classroom to the instructional and assessment materials for the grade/courses in which they are enrolled. Learning activities and asynchronous (independent) learning opportunities will be posted online for submission to the teacher for assessment and evaluation purposes. This is an important prerequisite in supporting students to fulfill the requirements of their program of study. 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.     

Application Deadline
Exemption requests must be submitted one week following the start of each reporting period by 4 p.m. on the following dates:

Elementary Application Deadlines: October 20, November 30, and February 23.

Secondary Application Deadlines: October 20, November 30, February 15, and April 30.

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

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