Latest COVID-19 Update from the TDSB

March 29, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As you know, the closure of all Ontario schools, including those at the TDSB, will be extended beyond the originally scheduled return date of April 6, 2020. At this point in time, the Government of Ontario has not yet announced how long the closure will be extended, but when we receive this information, we will let you know as soon as possible. 

In the meantime, and as indicated in the letter (Click to See Letter) you received from the Director of Education earlier this week, the TDSB is moving ahead with plans to connect teachers with students and/or their parents/guardians beginning Monday, April 6, 2020.

To help students stay connected and to support remote learning, the TDSB is lending internet-enabled devices to families who do not have access to devices. As a result, we need some additional information from our families. We would kindly ask that you click the link below and fill out the following form as soon as possible: Device and Internet Availability Form

The Director of Education has also sent out letters to all TDSB employees outlining their work expectations during school closure. I have attached the letters in the links below.

TDSB Work Expectation for Teachers and Early Childhood Educators

TDSB Work Expectations for Support Services Staff

Once again, we thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. We are working to provide additional information and next steps in the coming days. 

Thank you.

Previous Updates

March 25, 2020

Provincial Coordination and Planning

  • Schools will not reopen on April 6. More details to come on extended timelines.
  • Minister of Education and School Board Chairs and Deputy Minister of Education and Directors of Education conferencing weekly creating structure and collaboration to deal with issues more rapidly and uniformly.
  • We continue to work closely with other 71 school boards. We are treating the 2 week period as the prep period for having plans in place for teacher and student connectivity, post April 6.
  • There are a number of challenges to make this happen and many still remain unresolved including but not limited to:
    • Teacher and student access to information technology, email and internet among those we are working on.
    • Considerations for students with special needs and ESL.
    • Our support for student mental health and well-being including providing online resources and outreach to students and families.
  • The goal is to have a province-wide connectivity of learning – not each board to themselves. School Boards have different resources and capabilities and some have huge geographic distances with no access to internet and some have more diverse populations with unique and diverse needs and challenges. We will need to continue to manage those differences.
  • Some child centres are re-opening and the City of Toronto is reaching out to the TDSB as needed. There are all kinds of very stringent protections and a very specific process that we will only be invited to if they need our space. We have not been asked at this time.
  • The Ontario government is considering using school buses for additional transportation resources but no decisions have been made.
  • People want us to be good partners regarding our supplies – Ministry of Government and Community Services is working with all school boards to provide inventory, if available.

Continuation of learning

Phase 1

  • Ministry and school board (TDSB) learning resources on-line.
  • Teachers and students who have used and are comfortable with virtual learning will not be discouraged.
  • Working on a plan for teacher led learning. Equity of access within school boards and province-wide is exceptionally significant.
  • 22,500 families that TDSB doesn’t have an email for. We are in the process of calling these families to acquire emails and assess access to email, internet and so on.

Phase 2 – Post April 6

  • Have every child connected and teachers supported. System-wide, connecting thousands of teachers with 250,000 students will be monumental and an unprecedented task – we are really in uncharted territory.
  • Staff now working on the road map to get us to this point.
  • For some students, learning may be different.
  • Have to recognize that teachers also have families and children – it will place some limitations on their availability.
  • Director Malloy will be providing an update to parents to keep them informed of our plans to restore teaching and learning by April 6

Collaborating on Setting Expectations for Teachers’ Connectivity with Students

  • Government needs to take lead on determining the strategy/policy around issues linked to COVID-19.
  • We are hearing and we are glad to hear that the provincial government and unions are in discussion around next steps to support return to learning implementation .
  • Unions want to make sure (out of desire to protect members) that members are not acting without clarity on expectations of what is required. How will it be done, to ensure that members don’t put themselves at risk or make commitments that are not sustainable or equitable in terms of access to all students?
  • At the same time, many teachers/support staff – out of care and concern for students – are proceeding on their own. We won’t tell/discourage but also want to make sure that unevenness that has always been present in our system does not get exacerbated during this important planning stage.
  • At the local level, TDSB has set up local discussion tables with each local union so we can be proactive on preparing to support our students and work with our unions in getting ready to do so

Graduation 

  • Ministry says students’ graduation will not be harmed. More details to follow from Ministry.
  • Ministry working inside government to deal with post-secondary transition – marks, applications, etc.

March 21, 2020 

Update on Continuation of Learning for Students

The continuation of student learning is our top priority as we return from March Break and face the challenges this poses in the current unprecedented situation where schools are closed.

Today, phase one of support for student learning was launched with the Ministry of Education’s Learning at Home website. This portal provides supplementary learning materials in math and literacy for elementary and secondary students. The website will help keep students learning and engaged during the COVID-19 school closure
period. The ministry has said that these resources do not replace what students have been learning at school, but are intended to help mitigate learning loss during the COVID-19 shutdown period. 

In announcing this new initiative, Education Minister Stephen Lecce also stated that if school closures go beyond April 5, the Ministry of Education will launch a second phase of Learn at Home.

Also today, the TDSB is providing additional online resources that will support the Ministry’s Learn at Home initiative, covering a range of grades and subjects that may be helpful for students and parents during this time. It is important to note that these online resources are not mandatory or graded and are meant for families to use as optional resources to support independent learning while students are at home.

In addition, the ministry has asked school boards to use the next two weeks to develop plans to re-establish the delivery of curriculum, and to explore ways to provide students with access to devices and internet connectivity in the event the closure is extended. In creating our plan, we are collaborating with school administrators, educators, and union and federation partners to explore a range of ways that teachers and educational workers will be supported to be able to reach students during the school closure period. These relationships are important in supporting students’ wellbeing and learning. School closures due to Covid-19 have created new stressors for some students and their families. Beginning on Monday, March 23, 2020, many members of the Professional Support Services staff with mental health expertise will reach out to the students with whom they have relationships. In a few days, a variety of mental health resources will be announced on the TDSB webpage. Students who require urgent support should contact the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. Alternative methods of contacting them are available at https://kidshelpphone.ca/call. Their counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

We understand that parents and students are very concerned about this interruption to student learning.  We also understand the importance of teachers, administrators and all education staff to provide the learning opportunities and programs our students need.  We ask for your patience as we collaborate with all stakeholders to finalize how this direct support to students will be offered over the next while. We are committed to working through all aspects of this situation quickly and effectively under these very challenging circumstances.

The TDSB has been working to resolve a number of challenges that lie in creating conditions where all students and teachers have access to devices and the internet and supporting our Special Education and English as a Second Language students. We are committed to working through all aspects of this situation quickly and effectively under these very difficult circumstances. We are working on our plan and once finalized, we will share it with staff, students and families.  

These are the challenges that school boards are working on now with the Ministry of Education as we know the continuation of learning is top of mind for parents and students. We remain committed to keeping you informed as we strive to meet the challenges of supporting student learning during these most extraordinary times and
conditions.

Update on Student Graduation and Post-Secondary Transition

We know that parents of students in their last year of high school are concerned about graduation. We heard from the Minister of Education today that no student will
be denied graduation as a result of school closures due to COVID-19. Parents are also concerned about the impact of the disruption to learning on students’ post-secondary plans, the submission of marks and applications. We understand the Ministry of Education is working with the Ministry of Colleagues and Universities to ensure there is post-secondary transition contingency plan in place and more details from province will be provided soon. 

Mar 18, 2020

Update on Continued Learning During School Closures

Many of you not doubt have questions on how we can continue our student’s learning during these unprecedented times. I want to let you know that the TDSB is working with the Ministry of Education on plans to support a province-wide strategy for the continuation of learning during the two-week closure period. The Ministry expects to launch a website this week with a single point of access to online learning opportunities.  We will communicate this website with parents when it is available. In addition, the Ministry is working with Ontario’s school boards to help assess student access to learning in terms of information technology and support, on a province-wide basis, the continuation of learning between teachers and students.

School boards are also assessing the resources they can bring to support student learning. At the TDSB staff is working to make learning resources available to students during the two-week school closure period. We will keep parents updated as all this information becomes available.

As you may also have heard, the Ministry of Education has announced that due to the school closure period and the uncertainty beyond that point, all EQAO assessments for the remainder of this school year are cancelled. For students who are graduating in the 2019-20 school year, the literacy graduation requirement as set out in Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Program Requirements, 2016 will be waived. This applies to students in publicly-funded and private/First Nation schools. Students who are not graduating this school year will have the opportunity to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) in the upcoming 2020-21 school year.

We know these are very challenging times for students and families and we are committed to working with the Ministry of Education to support you as we deal with this unprecedented interruption to student learning.