Have questions about Ontario’s online learning requirement for graduation?? We’ve got you covered!

Check out some of our most frequently asked questions about this new policy. Don’t forget that ALL Virtual High School credits count towards the online learning requirement!

What is the online learning requirement in Ontario?

Students must successfully complete the equivalent of at least two full online credits to fulfill the Ontario Secondary School Diploma graduation requirement. Online learning credits for the graduation requirement may be earned at any time during the student’s secondary school program or, under exceptional circumstances, in Grade 8 (see Reach Ahead eligibility).

Who decided that students need two online credits to graduate?

The Ministry of Education in Ontario, which oversees all publicly-funded and inspected private schools in the province, released a memorandum in February 2022 to update principals on this new requirement for Ontario secondary school graduation. As an inspected school, VHS is required to follow the ministry’s policy and make sure our students meet the requirement.

What is the purpose of the online credits?

The Ministry of Education has provided the following points to clarify this decision:

  • This requirement is designed to support the development of digital literacy and other important transferable skills that will help prepare students for success after graduation and in all aspects of their lives. It is guided by a vision of an Ontario where every student has equitable access to high-quality online learning within a modernized education system that prepares them to succeed in a digital and ever-changing world.
  • Expanding access to high-quality, Ontario teacher-led online learning will enable students to access a wider variety of courses no matter where they live or go to school, allowing them to shape their education based on their individual needs and goals.
  • Employers are looking for people who understand the importance of technology and can use it in ways that will help their businesses thrive in a competitive, globally connected economy.

When does this requirement come into effect?

It’s based on a student’s date of entry into a secondary school rather than their graduation date. The requirement begins with the cohort of students who entered Grade 9 in the 2020-21 school year, no matter when they ultimately earn their diplomas. Adult learners entering the Ontario secondary school system in 2023-24 or later will also need to meet this graduation requirement.

Students working towards other certificates (for example, the SSGD or an Ontario Secondary School Certificate) are not required to complete the online learning graduation requirement but may be encouraged to enrol in online courses to support the development of digital literacy.

How are schools tracking this?

Each school board or school is responsible for developing their own tracking methods. At VHS, we record the completion of this requirement on the student’s transcript as soon as it has been met if we are their main school. If a student has completed only one online course, that will be tracked in our student information system until both credits have been earned and the notation can be added to the transcript.

If VHS is not my main school, how will my school know to count my VHS credits towards my online learning requirement?

We always strive to ensure we have great communication with our students’ main schools. Upon completion of your credit, we will send your main school an official digital report card and include the following information:

Please find attached a final report card for a student whose Ontario Student Record (OSR) resides at your school.

Please review the attached document and update the student’s Ontario Student Transcript (OST) accordingly.

Note: This course can count towards the online credit graduation requirement.

Can students opt out?

Yes. Parents/guardians may choose to opt their children out of the mandatory online learning credits required for graduation. To opt out, a parent/guardian or a student 18 years of age or older must submit an opt-out form to their main school. There are no set criteria in order to opt out.

At VHS, we don’t have many students opting out; typically, they’ve intentionally chosen online learning because it works well for them! However, we are always here to answer any questions or provide the opt-out pathway in the event that a student is earning their final credit and diploma with VHS.

Do any online courses qualify?

Not exactly. The credits must be earned through a school authorized to offer credits towards an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, so learning platforms like Khan Academy, Duolingo, or credits from an out-of-province high school won’t count.

For the purposes of this policy, online learning courses or online learning credits, also known as “e-learning” courses or credits, are Grades 9 to 12 credit courses that are delivered entirely using the internet and do not require students to be physically present with one another or with their educator in the school, except where they may be needed for the following:

  • Supervision of examinations and other final evaluations
  • Access to internet connectivity, learning devices, or other school-based supports

Credits that do not count towards the online learning graduation requirement include those earned through the following methods of delivery:

  • In-person learning in which students are physically present with other students in the same course and their educator in the school environment
  • Blended learning in which digital learning resources are used in an in-person learning setting or in which students are taught part of the time in the school environment and part of the time online
  • Flipped classrooms which are a type of blended learning in which students are introduced to content online and practice working through it in person with their educator in the school environment
  • Remote learning which involves minimum synchronous learning requirements*

*Up to one secondary school credit that was completed by students who were in Grade 9 during the province-wide school closures (from April 2021 to June 2021) may be counted towards the graduation requirement in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

Don’t see your question answered here? Contact our Guidance Team at guidance@vhs.ucourses.com for more information!