Some Durham Region parents have until May 4 to decide on fall school enrolment

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TORONTO -- The countdown is on for families with the Durham District School Board to make arrangements for the fall.

Parents have until Tuesday, May 4 at 11:59 p.m. to decide how they want to enrol their kids in the upcoming school year, the board’s website reads.

“We are asking families to make this decision now for the 2021-22 school year as we need the time to ensure that we can appropriately staff schools and provide stability for in-person learning once the year is underway," the board stated.

Afroza Abdulhusein, a Toronto-area mother of two, says she’s unsure how “realistic it is to make that decision right now.”

Her son will be entering junior kindergarten at a DDSB school in the fall.

Abdulhusein is leaning toward enrolling her son for in-person learning so he can receive “peer-to-peer interaction,” but says there are still many unanswered questions given the uncertainty of COVID-19.

“Are [the trends] going to go up, are they going to down? Are people going to adhere to the safety protocols? Are they going to relax a little bit? I think all of that is a lot for a parent to take into consideration in a short amount of time,” she said.

The DDSB says it recognizes the decision is difficult and is asking families to consider the options carefully “as students will not have the opportunity to switch learning options.”

“Families were making decisions on that as late as September last year and looking back it almost feels like last September felt a whole lot more stable than it does today,” said Krista Wylie, co-founder of Fix Our Schools.

Wylie says air quality in school buildings is still an issue.

“All of the ventilation that happens in those classrooms is dependent upon fresh air coming in from the outdoors. That is a non-optimum place to come into a pandemic," she said.

Parents across the various boards in Ontario are weighing their options.

“I don’t feel overly comfortable sending her to school right,” Ottawa mother Jessica Dumais said referring to her three-year-old.

“The vaccine rollout doesn’t seem to be streamlined very well. Teachers aren’t getting the vaccine,” she said.

Mental health is on parent Kathryn Damianidis’ mind.

“Both of my girls are struggling with their mental health being at home, they’re both kind of depressed. They’d both do much better in class,” she said.

Other Toronto-area school boards, including the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic District School Board, and Peel District School Board, told CTV News Toronto that they have not yet finalized a deadline on enrolment.