Latest COVID-19 Update from the TDSB
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: May 26, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- The Director provided an oral update.
- Trustees have asked questions about outbreak experiences in other countries, consideration for screening and temperature checks. All of these things are not within our authority and we would follow direction from the government and Toronto Public Health (TPH).
- Associate Director Kathy Witherow will speak to questions, comments around educator expectations.
- Associate Director Kathy Witherow will comment about report cards.
- Repair backlog concerns, ventilation and HVAC concerns will be answered in this week’s Trustee Weekly.
- Summer school, we are waiting for a memo from the government hopefully this week.
- How will we deal with typical summer programs that usually focus on literacy and numeracy, we will speak to this next week.
- Anti-Asian Racism – we are working on a framework around this for next Tuesday.
- We are finalizing the access protocol for retrieval of belongings (staff and students) this week. We want to ensure TPH is fine with it. Week of June 1-5 for staff as well, we will pilot a few schools this week to see if there are any adjustments required. Weeks of June 8-26 will be access for all families. We are not suggesting every family has to come to school to retrieve their belongings, it’s voluntary. Some do not need to come as we understand they have what they require. Will be site by site and protocols to be followed, the health and safety of individuals is of utmost importance.
- Educator expectations as it relates to discussions we have had with our unions tables, staff groups and principals, Associate Director Kathy Witherow will speak to this and what we have learned through the parent Thought Exchange.
- How do we acknowledge students graduating from grade 12, grade 8 grade 6, grade 5 and kindergarten? Anything we do must be virtual. We have given a clear direction that grade 12 graduations must be postponed. Field trips cannot happen and proms physically cannot happen. We have heard from various risk management providers outside of the TDSB, we have liabilities to explore. This was something we had hoped could be organized school by school as we have never mandated any school to do end of school year activities. The times we are in right now are challenging. We can communicate to our principals to ensure they are engaging students first and families immediately after about what would be an appropriate celebration ie prom. We understand our students deserve to be celebrated. We are grateful for schools who have come up with a plan. We are not saying yes or no, we are exploring this.
- Based on the questions received, we continue to work in multiple ways. As we move towards June, we know that we do not have the information to make a decision as a Board about what will happen in the Fall. We will be prepared and will provide information in a few weeks regarding all the different models we are working on. The skills gained now will be significant for the Fall. We need to continue to learn from what has presently happened and take that learning forward.
Associate Director Kathy Witherow:
- Revised expectations for educators for remote learning. We will be sharing this document with all Trustees, and across the system, hopefully tomorrow. We have received input from teacher federations.
- The expectations have also been informed by parent Thought Exchange. We mentioned before we had almost 40,000 parents share their ideas. We will have an update in Trustee Weekly this Friday to share some of the themes we heard. Parents would like more face to face with teachers, more direct instruction, schedules for the learning.
- May 19 announcement where the Ministry of Education called for more synchronous learning. We created a document that talks about how we expect teachers to communicate and engage online with students. We look at online, remote , just in time and real time learning. How are you connecting with your kids to check in, how are you using online learning with students, how are you collaborating and having kids collaborate with each other. We want our teachers to use the online platforms and to share all the great things they are doing. Everything you see in the document is happening now across the schools. We are celebrating what our teachers are already doing. We are linking to really great resources for teachers as well. This is leading us into September as we know we may need to be creative for learning in September. We want to set a foundation for competencies and a minimum standard for engagement. Document should be coming out tomorrow.
- Update on report cards: time is moving quickly, anxiety from teachers/principals that we need to know more. Have been doing a bi-weekly assessment update with educators. We are awaiting a memo coming from the Ministry of Education which we are anticipating to come this week. Short of having this memo, we are sharing with you that we are working with our IT partners and assessment group, all report cards will be sent home electronically. Our IT department is working with School Messenger to facilitate this. Some of our families who do not have an email address, approximately 7,000, will have their report cards sent in the mail.
- Timelines for reports cards, in previous years there was never a single date when they went out. We will communicate that the week of June 22-26 the electronic report cards will go home. The report cards going in the mail will go that week as well.
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: May 19, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- The Director provided an oral update.
- Spoke about contingency planning in a systemic way. Today we learned schools will remain closed for the remainder of this school year. We will need contingency planning for that. Summer School models and thinking to September, different strategies will be required for that. We have been in close contact with different levels of expertise to inform our contingency planning moving forward. Through the different circles we collaborate with, we learn insights. Toronto Public Health continues to be an expert that we listen to and pay close attention to. We also connected with Saad Rafi from the City of Toronto. We do our very best, with limited amount of information at times, in some cases the information is not there. We are keeping in front of what the key issues are.
- We are paying close attention to how we are communicating all the contingency information we are working on.
- The work continues to be complicated and complex; we are not losing sight of wellbeing and health and safety. We listen to our families staff and students who have shared insights with us. The announcement today will shift things, we will think deeply about summer and look to September.
- Tonight we will speak about contingency pieces related to operations, including permits. Contingency related to re-opening, working on this with the perspective of being back in school in different scenarios.
- We will speak about child care, CACs, PRO grants, printed material and the deployment of devices.
- Some have asked directly regarding updates on expectations for educators, real time and synchronous learning. We are still collaborating with our union colleagues and will have more of an update next Tuesday.
- Our intention is that all devices distributed will make their way back to the schools where they came from.
Associate Director Carlene Jackson:
- Walked through some of the operational issues related to returning to work and returning to school, We currently do not have all the answers, we have more questions.
- A document was shared with Trustees last week that outlined a lot more detail however, Carlene outlined the key points. Committee of almost 20 people, with representation from across the Board, are working on this. Final direction will come from Ministry, TPH, agencies. This team is looking at how we may navigate through these things.
- Social distancing, we will need to look at alternatives as to how we can make this work. We can only fit 12-15 students in our classrooms if we are to make that work. We are looking at different strategies to accommodate this. Different learning spaces. Looking at recess, exits and entries. Playground use. Playground equipment is not sanitized and we may still have a ban on equipment. Lunchtimes, how do we maintain physical distancing at these times. We are looking at different strategies. Carlene listed various areas that are being looked at.
- Maintenance and cleanliness of our facilities – we know some sort of enhanced cleaning will be required and we will require additional cleaning staff to accommodate this, we will need to consider additional budget to staff appropriately.
- While schools are closed we are continuing to do water flushing and all other maintenance, as required.
- We will do our very best to ensure surfaces and building are as clean as possible.
- PPE – we will be looking at TPH for guidance on PPE. There may be an expectation, or desire, of staff to wear PPE and TDSB may be requested to provide PPE. Staff are currently working on purchasing PPE however, this is a global issue and staff are experiencing some challenges.
- There may be a need to reduce visitors to the schools to minimize people in the buildings.
- We will have signs, etc. to remind everyone about practicing good hand hygiene with staff and students.
- We will need to have no sharing policies in place in schools to minimize any transfers/cross contamination.
- Regarding student transportation, similar to our classrooms, school buses are not made with physical distancing in mind. In order to have students remain 6 feet apart, we would likely only be able to fit 15 students per bus. We will need to look at strategies for school days, multiple runs, etc. As well, we know that 40% of our drivers are over the age of 60 and are in a higher risk category which may lead to work refusals.
- TTC also have physical distancing measures in place and many of our high school students take TTC which will see reduced capacity.
- Special Education, in addition to all the challenges above, there are challenges we are working through with Special Education students. We know EAs provide diaper changes, etc which does not allow for physical distancing and we will need to ensure we have all the appropriate PPE required.
- Cafeterias, lunch menus will need to be revised. We may need to look at pre-packaged lunches to reduce transmission. We may need to stagger lunch times.
- Once we receive further information, we will revise the protocol and finalize it. We will share the information with TPH and share with Trustees once we have that completed. We are working closely with different partners and want to ensure our thinking is aligned with those partners, as much as possible.
- Access to building to gather student belongings – parents, students and staff are eager to collect belongings from buildings. We are currently working on a protocol with TPH on next steps. Board property that needs to be returned could be done at the same time. We will need to develop very detailed time schedules to ensure we don’t have more people in the building than is safe.
- We will continue to take our advice from TPH. We expect to follow the same strategy as the City. Once we have further details, we will share that with you.
- Permits and whether we can open for the summer. That will be up to the Ministry, this question is sitting with them now and we hope to get information on that soon.
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw spoke to permits. We don’t know about the restrictions that will be in place through TPH, we are deemed non-essential and closed. We have to ensure we comply with all the restrictions in place. Social distancing, cleanliness, if we have permits in use after hours, we may have difficulty keeping up the standards required.
- Allowing permit holders to clean, this would be considered work of the bargaining unit.
- Summer permits, the city has indicated they will allow activities to take place on playing fields, individual activities only, no organized activities. We believe this is the same approach we should be taking. Until the restriction is lifted for gatherings of 5 or less.
Executive Superintendent Jim Spyropoulos:
- Provided an overview on the academic side of re-opening in September:
- As we prepare for the re-opening of schools in September, we do so with the safety and security of our students, staff and community as the highest priority.
- Prevention and control measures must be in place to appropriately limit the spread of COVID-19
- Final direction for schools and administrative buildings to re-open will come from the Ministry of Education, Toronto Public Health and/or other public health agencies. The Ministry of Education will also provide direction with respect to matters related to curriculum and assessment and evaluation practices. Local Boards will have responsibility for operationalizing Ministry directives with respect to school reopening.
- The working group is considering how to keep the academic programming within the Board moving forward in September, in light of the realities associated with COVID 19.
- The group that has come together to begin this work is made up of elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators, Superintendents of Education, System Superintendents, representatives from Special Education and Caring and Safe Schools, representatives from the Toronto School Administrators Association (TSAA), representation from Wandering Spirit School and the Urban Indigenous Education Centre. Associate Director Gardner is also a member of the team. The group is closely connected to the work being led by Associate Director Jackson which is focusing on the Operational elements of school re-opening.
- A range of models is being considered along a continuum ranging from fully open and operational schools to a complete continuation of remote learning for all students. A September return to school may potentially involve a hybrid model which combines elements of remote and in-person learning. A return to school may also occur in phases. Any return to school must and will take many different factors into account.
- As with other work done since schools were closed in mid –March, consultation with union and federation partners will be a key element of moving forward.
- The group is working with many questions that have arisen as part of the discussions.
- The most important questions raised as part of school re-opening relate to supporting and improving student well-being, achievement and engagement, in light of the closure period. Specific questions raised connect to many areas of the Board including, communication, Employee Services (expectations for staff, issues of absenteeism related to staff and students), implementation of hygiene and physical distancing measures, teacher support, nutrition, School Councils, technical support for students and staff, transportation, emergency preparedness, sites with multiple users, differentiation between elementary, secondary and “specialized” schools as well as distinct provisions for Wandering Spirit School.
- We appreciate that while the Board must provide system direction, local schools will implement and operationalize based on the unique needs of school communities.
- The next phase of the work will involve smaller working groups creating plans that are more specific to elememtary, secondary, specialized schools and Wandering Spirit School.
- We will continue to provide regular updates.
Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins:
- Given the complexity of child care and early years programs, there is the need for a detailed, corresponding contingency plan for re-establishing these programs. There are five different programs being considered under this planning framework. They are as follows:
– infant, toddler, preschool licensed child care programs offered in exclusive leased space;
– before and after school care for students in Kindergarten to Grade 8;
– TDSB Extended Day Programs which are board operated before and after school care programs;
– authorized recreation programs offered after school; and
– EarlyON Child and Family Programs.
- These programs are both provincially and municipally regulated. EarlyON and Extended Day Programs are board-operated and have financial implications.
- Under O.Reg 221/11, TDSB is required to provide before and after school care where there is a demand and viability. This is a legal requirement. The circumstances associated with COVID-19 will likely make it challenging to deliver programming in the same manner as in the past.
- Many of the considerations being discussed were mentioned by AD Jackson; however there are also other factors, unique to child care and early years, that need to be considered as the re-opening of child care will being in Phase 2 of the government’s plan. Some of those additional factors that are being examined in the child care contingency planning are:
- difficulty in predicting to demand for child care given the context of Covid-19;
- requests for additional space;
- health and safety protocols;
- mixing of children of different age groups and from different schools in some BASPs;
- clarity about the continuity of lease agreements and subsidies for families; and
- staffing – recruitment, retention and absence management.
- We look forward to more information from the Ministries of Education, Labour, Tourism and Recreation, Toronto Public Health and The City of Toronto’s Children’s Services to establish the parameters and health and safety protocols for resuming these programs. Staff will evaluate the feasibility of offering TDSB Extended Day Programs in July and August, if feasible, safe and permissible as set out by provincial and local authorities. Staff has requested to meet with Toronto Children’s Services to form a coherent plan for re-opening child care in the community and in-schools. We are conducting scans of successful approaches, in other jurisdictions, to reopening child care in schools to inform our planning. Lastly, once more is known about the terms for re-opening from other authorities it will be important to include the perspectives of child care operators in TDSB’s planning process.
- Community Advisory Committees (CACs) – a few CAC members are continuing to have conversations in small groups to discuss various aspects of their Terms of Reference. We are asking that those discussions that are taking place now also be brought forward so CACs for discussion when meetings resume in the Fall. Individuals may choose to depute to various committees should they have urgent matters they wish to draw to the attention of the Board of Trustees through the appropriate Standing Committee.
- Parent Reaching Out (PRO) Grants – Today we received information from the Ministry of Education that no decisions regarding changes to the grant have been made at this time. We will continue to provide updates on the status of these grants as well as develop alternative plans for the funding.
- Printed Learning Packages and English Language Learners – The intent in developing printed learning resources was to replicate the learning experiences of those students who are online with a teacher rather than practice questions. English Language Learners (ELL) are able to receive support in interpreting the instructions on those printed packages from their classroom or ESL Teacher.
Associate Director Manon Gardner:
- Executive Officer Peter Singh and Associate Director Manon Gardner are happy to let Trustees know they have obtained 95% of device deliveries (55,938 devices have been delivered). We still have about 3,000 to go. We have not officially closed the survey, if family’s situations have changed, we ask that they contact their principals to submit a request.
- Summer School – the Minister spoke to summer school today. At this time, we will wait to look at the official communication when we receive it to ensure we are aligned and then send the information out.
May 14, 2020
Director’s Updates to Parents/Guardians: COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)
The Toronto District School Board is committed to keeping all parents/guardians updated on the impact of COVID-19 on schools and any developments with regard to remote learning. Below are the recent updates from Director of Education John Malloy:
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: May 12, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- John provided an oral update.
- We have a lot of information to share today, members of the team will also assist.
- Status of the SO Process:
- March 9: 52 people attended the information session
- April 21: As of this date, 48 Notices of Intent received; 15 of them external to the Board
- In the following weeks, 27 (22 internal and 5 external) candidates were confirmed through the Learning Centre endorsement process or in consultation with the Executive Superintendent, Employee Services
- May 7: Learning Session for 32 from Senior Team, including those participating in Dialogue Teams
- May 8: 27 application packages received with Endorsed Confirmations of Intent, Letters of Application, Resumes, Recommended Referees Forms and recent performance appraisals (if available)
- May 21: Dialogues take place, Reference Checks (including Resume Validation) ongoing
- June 8 to 12: Formal interviews (June 8 am, June 10 am, June 11 all day, June 12 all day)
- Trustees will be invited to participate in the Formal Interview Process the week of June 8 – 12. Will need two Trustees as part of the Interview Process and an opportunity to express a desire to be part of the process will be sought from Trustees closer to the interview dates. As part of the conflict of interest guidelines that inform the process, participation will be determined when it is confirmed that there are no candidates from schools in one’s own ward.
- June 17: Board Approval of Qualifying Applicant Pool (QAP).
- In terms of the work that has gone on, sharing information on the Thought Exchange with parents/guardians. Happy to report there were over 39,000 parents/guardians participated in the survey, sharing their thoughts about the remote learning experiences of their children. These participants offered 47,000 thoughts. This exchange allows for families to provide their own thoughts as well. We learned from this that families believe in the importance of student, teacher and peer connections, they believe in direct instruction, they spoke to consistent routines and a number of thoughts on return to school in September. We will communicate this feedback through the next parent/guardian communication. These insights will be influencing our next steps.
- In terms of our work, we are examining best practices existing across the TDSB as it relates to this remote space. We cannot replace the important environment of the classroom. We don’t know how long we will be working in this remote space. Our staff has been very, very involved in Professional Learning. Associate Director Kathy Witherow will share the data around this. We are working on building capacity across all schools in Global Competencies – the use of technology is just one aspect of this. Just as we need to build teacher capacity in how to use technology, we are doing the same with Principals.
- Very grateful to report as of today, we have deployed over 56,000 devices, the number keeps growing. We started at 40,000 a few weeks ago. We are down to 4,000 left to be delivered. Have a commitment from the company we are working with that they will work over the upcoming long weekend to ensure this is completed.
- As we reflect on next steps on learning from home, and how we engage students we are not hearing from, we continue to ask our principals working with our staff to name those students. Students needs vary tremendously. We have staff reaching out to those students and we are trying to determine the best way to be supportive. Some families have let us know they would like to step away from this learning and we have asked them to stay connected. Connection is important, relationships matter and this has been disrupted. We are continuing to do everything we can to support our students. Parent concerns should follow the parent concern protocol. The leveraging of support staff is managed at the school level.
- Regarding September, Associate Director Jackson is working on a School/Work Re-opening Committee. We have been given direction that we can develop an access protocol that would enable students and parents/families to retrieve belongings in a manner that is safe for everyone during the month of June. Staff has been working closely on this and have drafted a protocol under Associate Director Carlene Jackson’s leadership. This protocol would be implemented only in the event that the province makes a decision that schools will not return for the remainder of the school year. We do not have any direction as of yet, no further information has come regarding extending the school closure. Associate Director Jackson will email this to Trustees so you have the work in progress. This may be a good agenda item for discussion at our next meeting.
- Boards across the province are collaborating and meeting regularly. Sharing what we have learned and what we are working on. Executive Officer Craig Snider is sitting at a provincial table regarding Returning in September and Director Malloy sits at a provincial table regarding things that are happening now.
- Parents are being supported with tools. Last week, staff provided four training sessions on Google Classroom & Brightspace – two of each in the afternoon and evening. Overall views are just under 2000 (Brightspace: 1292 and Google Classroom: 675). This is a combination of live participants and those who watched the recording. Professional learning will continue.
- How do we support teachers who are struggling? There are so many expectations, things change daily, everyone responds to these changes differently. We listen, we reach out with one another, support those expectations to the best of our ability and pay close attention to those we feel may need help.
- Collection and return of digital devices: we don’t know when things will return to “normal”. Each device has been tagged and we know where they belong. We will need to figure out strategies to deal with this. Staff is working on various options, trying to figure out how far away we are from each student having their own device while they are in our system. We are currently not that far off, we are at 1:3 for students. This would be a costly endeavour but one we are examining.
- Equity, a major commitment in our Board. We are grateful for what is happening. There is a cross-functional committee looking at the various equity issues emerging from the emergency closure. The strategies and approaches will be varied depending on the equity issues identified. There will be further information provided once a draft plan is developed.
Associate Director Kathy Witherow:
We will continue to build on the learning that has already happened. We are responding to the needs that are evolving as we continue to work and learn in this new Remote Learning environment. Beginning in March, our attention was focused on a beginning level of “how to” webinars. As staff capacity has grown over the past six weeks, this focus has shifted to include more webinars that go deeper on specific tools within the platforms. Between that time and now, we have had over 19,000 participants, offered over 43 distinct courses in 305 sessions. 19 courses this week being offered on different days of the week and different times of the day. Both live sessions as well as webinars that have been archived that can be accessed in your own time. The “beginner” type of webinar recordings remain available online for all staff to review. The “Office Hours” component of the capacity building continues, which allows teachers to ask specific questions in a small group setting or one-to-one. Professional learning is also being offered to help build capacity to use tools that help with face to face connections in Google Classrooms (Google Meet) and Brighspace (Virtual Classroom). We also have many professional learning opportunities where teachers collaborate with other teachers. These Google + Communities have many participants who engage regularly. The focus of the professional learning is now shifting from the basics of how to use online platforms and broadening to how to provide feedback, assess, communicate and connect with for example.
April 15, 2020
Premier Doug Ford has announced, on April 14th, that schools will not be resuming on the originally planned date of May 4th. With this announcement, the TDSB will continue its Learn at Home strategy until further information and instructions become available. We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone and many parents are hoping for school to resume at the earliest opportunity. I want everyone to know that we will absolutely resume school as soon as our public health experts indicate that it is safe to do so.
In the mean time, we are continuing to focus on the effectiveness of online learning, online safety, mental well-being, and ensuring that our students who do not have the technology required to learn at home receive the equippments that are needed.
Last night, letters were sent by Director John Malloy to both parents and staff regarding this update and you can find the links to these letters below.
The TDSB has also not been immune to the tragedies brought forth by COVID-19 and our Flemington Public School family suffered a loss of one of our own last month. With heavy hearts, we wrote to inform our community about the tragic death of a beloved staff member. Ms. Dianne Chin, a grade 3 teacher, passed away on Friday, April 10th after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Dianne leaves behind her daughter, son-in-law and 8 siblings. While respecting the family’s privacy, we can share that Ms. Chin was diagnosed on March 29th after contracting the illness from a personal contact and not prior to our school closing on March 13th. I know you join with all of us in expressing our deepest condolences to her grieving family and friends. You can find the media release at the link below.
Thanks for your continued patience and support towards the TDSB. Together we will come out of this pandemic stronger as a community!
March 29, 2020
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
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.