Latest COVID-19 Update from the TDSB
I want to provide you with an important update on the status of in-person learning at the Toronto District School Board. As you know, schools across Ontario have been closed this week to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Today, the Government of Ontario announced that elementary schools across Ontario, including those at the TDSB, will remain closed to students and staff until at least Monday, January 25, 2021. Secondary schools will remain closed until Monday, January 25 as was previously scheduled. During this extended closure, remote learning will continue.
We know that this extended shift to remote learning presents challenges for a number of families — of both students and staff — but I know our schools and our educators have been working to support all families to ensure that learning can continue as best as possible given the circumstances.
As we’ve shared before, while the TDSB has distributed more than 70,000 devices to students, we know that some students may still require a device for this extended remote learning period. In those cases, families are encouraged to contact their school to arrange for one. Please note that devices will be provided based on availability and may take time to distribute.
For parents/guardians of students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning and are receiving in-persons supports, these supports will continue during the extended closure.
As always, should you have any questions, please speak with your child’s school. In the meantime, we will continue to provide any necessary updates as we receive them.
Updates to Student COVID-19 Screening Procedures
Toronto Public Health announced on December 4 that it has updated its COVID-19 student screening tool to prevent further opportunities for virus spread.
As part of this guidance, if a child has one or more new, or worsening COVID-19 symptoms, parents will now be required to:
1. Keep their child home.
2. Keep siblings and other children home, even if they do not have symptoms.
3. Arrange for the child to get tested or contact their health care provider.
4. Without testing, the child must stay home for 10 days.
5. Monitor the family for symptoms. Adults must stay home if they have one or more symptoms.
Physical Schools: The restart of classes in our physical schools has gone largely with out issues. Around 160 thousand returned to our bricks and mortar physical schools this September under enhanced safety protocol. We have implemented small class sizes to all schools identified by the Toronto Public Health as having enhanced risk, and instituted reduced class sizes for all other physical classrooms identified as low risk.
Virtual Secondary Schools: Virtual school for secondary students started on Sept 22, 2020 and the process for most students have been smooth. We have observed some difficulties with time-tabling and access to online platforms for students, however most of these issues were resolved within the first week of school start.
Student Safety: We have seen some encouraging implementation of safety measure within schools. These measures are challenging for both our students and staff to implement, but we see that everyone is doing what they can to protect themselves and others. So far in Ward 13, we have seen 4 confirmed cases amongst our school staff (some were from before school started), and 4 confirmed cases of infection amongst our student body. As of Oct 12, the cases identified in our schools are all thought to be acquired through external transmission from outside of the school communities, and the Toronto Public Health has not declared an outbreak in any Ward 13 schools. An out break will be declared if two members of a school community test positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, of which one case is believed to have been contracted from interactions within a school. As our province experience a second wave of surge in COVID-19 cases, I hope everyone will continue to stay vigilant and work hard to remain safe.
Challenges within our Elementary Virtual Schools
The introduction of our elementary virtual school was one that faced many challenges. Many of our students have faced issues accessing Brightspace, and some are still waiting for a teacher to be assigned.
Brightspace: Due to system updates required to support the massive number of students who needed to access Brightspace for their virtual learning, various student accounts had to be reset. This resulted in a number of our students losing access to their Brightspace learning platform. The resulting call volume to our IT helped desk then overwhelmed our customer service capacity, leaving many parents desperately searching the internet for a way to login. It is during this time when I saw many parents stepping up to lend a helping hand to provide others with the information that they have. How our community came together to support each other during a time when our system was struggling was very moving for me to see. Thank you!
Teachers Shortage: For many days after virtual school was supposed to start on September 22nd, we were not able to assign a teacher to many students. The reason for this was contributed by two main factors.
Last Minute Hiring: As the number of COVID-19 cases started to raise in early Septembers, many parents contacted the school board to make last minute move from physical schools to virtual learning. The result of this was close to an additional 20 thousand students entering into our virtual programs, which prompted the need to hire 800 additional teachers with a few days of notice. The additional teachers had to be hired in order to avoid a last-minute reorganization of physical schools, which would have delayed school start for those 160 thousand students who had chosen to return to physical classrooms. Unfortunately, not all the hiring was able to be completed on time, so we started Virtual classes with a deficit in teachers.
Teacher Resignations: Virtual learning is considered by many educators to be an extremely intensive work, and is quite different from teaching in a physical classroom. As we brought many of our newly hired long-term occasional teachers to fill the ranks of virtual school teachers, many educators found the work to be unsuitable for their personal teacher style, or existing circumstances. As a result, we experienced a surprisingly high number of turn-over amongst our virtual school teachers within the first week of their employment. This had forced our human resources staff to scramble to hire replacement teachers, further contributing to our teacher shortage.
Leaves of Absence: The shortage of teachers has also created challenges to provide virtual class-rooms with a supply teacher when a teacher goes on leave. The challenge with assigning a supply teacher is compounded by the fact that a virtual teacher must go through a two-day training program on virtual teaching and be set-up with an online profile. So unlike supply teachers in physical schools where it is fairly straight forward to walk into a class room being teaching, much preparation is required to create a qualified pool of supply teachers in virtual schools.
Solutions to Challenges within our Elementary Virtual Schools
Frankly speaking, our senior staff of the TDSB, under the strong encouragement from the Board of Trustees, have turned over every stone to resolve our virtual school challenges as quickly as possible. But I want to be clear that many of these solutions are temporary in nature and they are designed to close our teacher shortage gap until a permanent solution is put in place after October 15th.
- Some students enrolled in French Immersion and Extended French virtual programs are assigned with temporary English teachers until a qualified French teacher can be assigned.
- Some teachers have been assigned two separate cohorts temporarily with separate instructions alternating between the morning and afternoons.
- Some French Immersion and Extended French classes have been assigned a team of two teachers (one English teacher, and one qualified French teacher). This allows the TDSB to complete the necessary French curriculum in two classes using only one qualified French teaching resource.
These above-mentioned solutions have allowed 99% of our students begin learning with an assigned teacher
Starting the week of October 15th, full time teachers will be reassigned from physical schools to close the teacher shortfall gap in virtual schools. Our senior staff expect this reorganization teacher will bring us a long-term solution to the staffing challenges we are currently experiencing in our virtual schools.
Elementary School Reorganisation
Each year, the TDSB reorganizes the staffing within our schools in the beginning of October to true up the teacher assignments based on actual enrollment numbers. A school with higher than expected number of students will be assigned additional teachers, and vice versa. This year, due to a large number of students electing to switch to virtual class between the end of August and Sept 15th, and also again between Sept 16th and Sept 39th, our physical schools became over staffed by 500 teachers. This overstaffing of physical bricks and mortar schools also became the main drive behind the staffing challenges experienced by our virtual schools.
As you can see from the chart below the average class sizes within the non-high-risk physical school is quite a bit below our original plan. And if we dig deeper into these numbers, we had 166 classrooms with 10 or less students as of September 30th.
Grades 1 to 3
Grades 4 to 8
Targeted Class Size Average as per Reopening Plan Funded by the Province
(24 target limit)
(20 target limit)
(27 target limit)
Actual Class Size Average as of Sept 30, 2020
Through this reorganization, we will be redeploying 570 teachers from over 320 physical schools to our virtual classes. These teachers will be assigned to any classes that are still without a teacher, and will also replace around 200 occasional teachers already teaching in our virtual schools. These 200 occasional teachers will then be freed up to take up supply teaching roles for long-term & permanent virtual school teachers who goes on leave. Throughout this process, our senior staff have taken into consideration the preferences of those teachers being reassigned, and reorganized staff with a preference of going to a virtual school as much as possible. During this process, 42 vice-principals will also be transferred from physical to virtual schools in correspondence to enrollment changes in those affected schools.
Senior staff have made it very clear that changes being made to classes for in-person schools will not exceed the TDSB’s original targeted class size limits so that health and safety standards relating to classroom size and social distancing can be maintained. The targeted class size limits are: JK/SK classes – 24 students, Grades 1 to 3 – 20 students, and Grades 4 to 8 – 27 students. Schools in communities identified by Toronto Public Health as higher risk for contracting COVID-19 will have JK/SK classes with a targeted limit of 15 students and Grade 1 to 8 classes with a targeted limit of 20 students.
We know that change is not easy for our students who are affected by this reorganization. Teachers will make every effort to make this a smooth transition for students affected by the changes. Parents/Guardians of in-person students will have already heard from their Principal if changes to teachers/classes will affect their child. I encourage all parents whoa are concerned to reach out to their principal for detailed information on how a seamless transition will be ensured.
A detailed timeline for school reorganization can be found at the following link.
For additional Q&As regarding reorganization, please click on this link.
Elementary Ratio: 35% (28% TDSB): Click here for Full Report
Secondary Ratio: 21% (19% TDSB): Click Here for Full report
Important Update: Letter from Interim Director & Chair
Dear Parents/Guardians and Families,
We would like to begin by simply saying thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you for your continued patience as we work through all of the planning and Ministry of Education approvals required for a safe return to school and work for staff and students. It has not been an easy or straightforward process. We know you are anxious to learn more about what to expect as we open TDSB schools and welcome students back. We sincerely appreciate your continued understanding and trust as we move forward. We are doing everything we can to plan effectively for a safe return to school and we are focussed on doing everything possible to keep staff, students and families safe and healthy.
As you may know, Trustees made a number of important decisions yesterday including the approval of more than $30 million in funding to hire an additional 366 teachers to lower elementary class sizes to help improve student and staff safety in schools. Staff have now finalized our secondary and elementary school learning models and we are moving forward with the important planning and preparations necessary to reopen schools.
Delayed Start: Tuesday, September 15
Given the time required to prepare for the return to school, the TDSB has to move the first day of school (for elementary, secondary and virtual school) to Tuesday, September 15. The entry of all grades will then be staggered over three days. This extra time will help us open schools in a safe and orderly manner. More information and specific details will be shared with parents/families directly from your child’s school prior to the first day of school.
Mask/Face Covering Guidelines
To improve health and safety in schools, all students and staff will be required wear masks/face coverings in TDSB buildings and on school buses. This decision is in line with the overall City of Toronto requirement that anyone over the age of two wear a mask/face covering in indoor public spaces — with exemptions for medical reasons. While schools will have masks available for students if required, the expectation is that students will provide and wear their own masks/face coverings. Particularly for younger students, we will ensure there are outdoor breaks, so students are not wearing masks for multiple hours at a time. More details on mask/face coverings will be coming shortly.
Elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 8)
Students (including those in Special Education and French Immersion & Extended French programs) will attend school 5 days per week, with one cohort/group for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place, including smaller class sizes to help maximize physical distancing. Elementary schools located in Toronto communities where Toronto Public Health data shows higher risk of contracting COVID-19 will have lower class sizes than all other elementary schools. Visit the website for more information, including important details on elementary class sizes.
Secondary (Grades 9 to 12)
Students (including those in Special Education and French Immersion & Extended French programs) will have in-class learning on alternate days and synchronous (live, online learning) as well as asynchronous (independent work) learning daily with enhanced health measures in place including smaller class sizes to help maximize physical distancing. For more information, please visit the website.
Virtual School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
Registration for In-School or Virtual Learning
As you know, we began a pre-registration process earlier this month to learn which students planned to attend school in September and which students planned to take part in fully remote (home) learning. Since that time, there have been significant changes to the learning models and more information is available to help inform parents in making this decision. Therefore, on Wednesday of next week, the TDSB will ask parents/guardians via email to make a final decision and register their children to attend school or choose remote learning through the Virtual School. The email will contain a unique link to an online registration form for each student. Parents/guardians with more than one child will receive one email per child and will be required to complete a separate registration for each child. The online registration will be available in twenty different languages.
It is very important for all parents/guardians to complete this online registration, even those who have already responded to the pre-registration phone call last week. Only parents/guardians who do not have an email address on file or do not complete the registration online will receive a registration phone call asking them to make their selection. For more information and to learn about the different registration options, we encourage all parents/guardians to visit the TDSB website.
Wednesday, August 26: Email sent to all parents/guardians and registration opens
Saturday, August 29: Registration closes
We will continue to keep families informed and updated in the days ahead. We are preparing schools to receive staff and students. As a first step, Program and Operational Guidelines are currently being finalized and will be shared with Principals/Vice Principals and school staff next week. In order for staff and students to return to school safely, there are many considerations and adjustments to be made to school facilities and school staff require time to learn about these requirements and begin to implement before students return to school. Learn more about our health and safety guidelines for schools on the website.
We ask for your continued patience as this important work continues. Please remember that teachers and school staff have also been eagerly awaiting information and details that will allow them to plan for September. It will take some time to prepare and finalize school and class-specific plans. Please know that Principals will begin to share school-specific information directly with families as soon as possible. We know that you have many questions and concerns and staff will continue to do their best to provide the necessary information and keep you informed.
We are in this together and we all share a common goal of ensuring the health and safety of staff, students and families. We would like the return to school to be as smooth as possible for everyone and we need to continue working together to make this happen.
Carlene Jackson Alexander Brown
Interim Director of Education Chair
COVID-19 Update: Aug 10, 2020
As we prepare to open our schools in September and welcome back students and staff, we are doing everything possible to ensure the health and safety of all school community members. I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you Returning to School: A Guide to the Safe Reopening of the TDSB. This document outlines our plans on health and safety measures, learning models, well-being and supports and operations.
Staff have been working on these plans for the past few months guided by ongoing conversations with Toronto Public Health, the Ministry of Education, as well as staff, students, families and our union and federation partners. On July 30, we received final direction from the Ministry for the fall and were able to firm up our plans in the TDSB.
Additional information on our school reopening plans will be shared as we get closer to the opening of school. Visit our website —www.tdsb.on.ca/returntoschool — regularly for updates. Please also join us for a webinar on the Safe Reopening of Schools this Thursday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to learn more about our plans.
To help with our planning, you will be receiving — beginning Tuesday, August 11 — an automated School Messenger phone call from the TDSB asking for you to indicate your intentions for your child(ren) for September (i.e. will they be attending in-person classes or learning remotely). If the attempts to reach you by phone are not successful or you have been unable to respond to our calls, we will follow up with an email which will include a link to an online Pre-registration form. Please note that more information on this pre-registration process will be shared with parents/guardians tomorrow.
Thank you for your continued patience and support.
Interim Director of Education
Earlier today, the Ministry of Education released its requirements to all public-school boards on the expectations for school reopening in September. Although our staff still require a bit more time to absorb this new information and correlate them to our original Prelim Plans for School Reopening, I would like to share the following highlights with you.
Elementary SchoolsElementary (JK to Gr 8) students will be returning to schools 5 days a week
- Class sizes will align with those outlined in our collective agreements with the teacher’s unions
- All students JK – Gr 3 are encouraged to wear masks
- All students Gr 4 or higher are required to wear masks
- Many safety measures will be in place such as hand hygiene, masks/face coverings and/or shields, physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, enhanced cleaning, and staying with cohort for duration of school day and staggering lunch and recess.
- We will also be actively screening both staff and students and working with Toronto Public Health should contact tracing be required.
- School boards will need to be exploring ways to minimize excessively large class sizes, which could require additional teachers.
- Full time remote learning will be available for parents electing to keep their children home (see slide 30 of the TDSB Prelim Reopening Plans in link below)
Secondary SchoolsSecondary school students will be returning to school 5 days a week following a system very similar to the adapted model outlined in our prelim plans for reopening (see slide 33 of the TDSB Prelim Reopening Plans in link below)
- Students will spend 50% of the day in class, and 50% of the day learning remotely at home
- All students are required to wear masks
- Full time remote learning will be available for parents electing to keep their children home (see slide 42 of the TDSB Prelim Reopening Plans in link below)
- We will offer daily attendance to students with special education needs where an adapted schedule or remote learning may be challenging based on student needs.
- Focus on the use of assistive technology and updating IEPs based on school learning environment and remote learning needs.
- Special considerations are needed for the returning to school of medically fragile students.
- Continue with transition plans to ensure a safe return to school for students with special education needs.
- Ministry has indicated more funding to support plans but TDSB has no firm numbers yet on funding levels at this point. More information are required.
Further Return to School Pre-Registration Surveys for Parents
- Once the details are finalized, the TDSB will be surveying parents to determine their intensions to send their child to school in September or keep them at home and opting for remote learning. This information will be essential for the Board to plan for staffing, class sizes, and school space capacity. The Board will also be surveying staff for their intentions as well. The surveys should begin in a week’s time.
Please see below link for the Province of Ontario’s Back to School Plan
Please see below link for TDSB’s Preliminary School Reopening Plan
COVID-19 Update: Jul 15, 2020
TDSB has released the Preliminary School Reopening Plans for Sept 2020. You can find the details at the link below
TDSB had recently conducted a Return to School Parent Survey as a part of the community consultation process to develop our operating plan when school reopens in September 2020. Over seventy thousand respondents took part in the survey and the results of the survey is included in the link below.
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: Jun 23, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- The Director provided an oral update.
- We have had quite a bit of activity since our last meeting. I would like to talk about the messaging we learned from the Minister, contingency framework we are using and the chronology. We will speak to public health, summer camps, permits. How we are supporting educators depending on what emerges in September and some final comments on Focus on Youth.
- We heard the guidance from the Minister and Ministry, appreciate our senior team has been aligned with this. We have been working on three scenarios, remote, hybrid (adaptive), return to school. Our work has always known that all of these pieces needed to be developed. One piece of information received at a meeting with the Minister and Chairs on Friday, we were asked to develop all three scenarios and the expectation continues. On Saturday, the Minister mentioned the start up would be the hybrid (adaptive model). It was then clarified the Minister’s expectation is to start in an adaptive model. We will need to work out how we will have students come to school. We will clarify this again when we meet with the Deputy on Thursday. We want to ensure the public knows as there is a bit of confusion. Sometimes there is the thought that we make these decisions, these are not our decisions to make.
- We are engaging students, staff and parents now. We are getting good insights from the process, though it is not finished yet. Have been given good feedback from people we may have missed (ie families who are not yet in our schools).
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson will take the next item, framework and chronology of work happening.
Associate Director Carlene Jackson:
- There is still much work to do and sort out. As previously mention, we have a comprehensive steering committee in place to develop strategies and ensure a successful opening in the Fall. Health and safety remain at the forefront. We have 13 subcommittees created. All of those committees are meeting on a regular basis. Now each subcommittee is developing plans using the framework: identifying the knowns and unknowns that will need to serve, with further discussion with TPH. We are developing strategies for the 3 scenarios (remote, adaptive and full return to school) most of our efforts now will go into the hybrid model as that is what we are told it will look like. These draft plans are then brought to the steering committee and will be put together into one plan for the TDSB — July 3rd subcommittee due. Carlene shared the school re-opening plan timeline on the screen and reviewed the dates. This timeline was also emailed to Trustees this evening.
- Last Friday, a meeting was held with TPH, talked about all the different issues we still need clarity on and they don’t have all the answers at this time. TPH has agreed to be a very active partner in our plans, they will actually be part of our planning table. The Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health will come to our steering committee meetings. When the plan comes to the Trustees , it would have been vetted by TPH.
- Our intention is to have information sessions (town halls or the like) where this information can be shared .
- That is our draft timeline at this time.
Questions for Clarification:
Trustees Chernos Lin:
Thought I understood what the Ministers intention was but now feel confused. Can you explain what the difference between adaptive vs hybrid?
- Director Malloy: Adaptive is the Ministry term and hybrid is what we have been using, it means the same thing. Full return to school, adaptive (hybrid), full remote are the 3 choices.
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: full return to school would be with regular class sizes with enhanced cleaning. Hybrid would have smaller class sizes on alternate schedules.
Can you provide clarity, is 15 a hard cap, what happens if there is a class of 33?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: that is still one of our unknowns and is on the list.
- Director Malloy: the number 15 comes from the scientific modelling. We will need to work out if all families will be returning to school. If students are not returning, this may keep our numbers at 15, even if we have class size of 33.
In the directive (brief Ministry released) congregated sites to return earlier?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: Yes, we are looking at that as the numbers are smaller, that is being looked at in detail.
It would be interesting to hear more about the special education committee.
When we begin polling parents about intentions to return, are we considering polling earlier about transportation?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: yes, we are going to poll the parents much earlier who already receive transportation.
Have received concerns from parents, they are asking the Board for younger kids to go back to school, full stop. The at home doesn’t work. There is a big difference between now and September. With the hybrid model, could we do it where there is a difference across grades? Instead of having grade 3 go back week on, week off, we have the older grades stay home and the younger kids come to school every day?
- Director Malloy: the Board does not have the authority to do what is being suggested. The Government decides. The 3 scenarios are not directed by us.
Lost at how teachers will teach through this. May have a group of parents who will not want their children coming back at all (remote learning), some teachers having kids coming half time, are we doubling the number of teachers? Is there any insight into this at this point or will that be coming at another time?
- Director Malloy: families have to decide if we are in a hybrid model if they are coming or not. If they are not, we may assign a teacher, who for reasons needs to be at home, to support these students who need to be at home. This is part of the contingency planning. For the future, we will move to the term adaptive (not hybrid). The plan would be students would be in school some of the time. The teacher would work when the kids are not there. The teachers will have some facetime with the students. We just received the parameters and will be in a better positon in two weeks to have further details.
Recapped what Director Malloy said. Families decide if students are coming back or remain in remote. They can come half time, and be given work on the other days to do when they are not there.
For further clarity, when you are talking about the remote learning piece, those children will get remote learning which may include synchronous learning. If family chooses remote, they will have a teacher but it won’t be the classroom teacher they would have had if they were in school.
All of this will take some time for families to get used to and teachers to plan. On the timeline, is that the July 17th piece?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: yes, this is the information we are planning to have finalized by the July 17th date.
On the week of July 27th, we will ask parents about their intentions of going back to school. Are we presenting them a draft so they can make an informed decision?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: we will have the information from our July 17th draft report that we will incorporate into a survey. We should have enough information to provide to families to let them know what it will look like in September so they can make an informed decision.
If you have a class of 20, and of the 20, 5 have decided they are not comfortable returning. Do we then continue with two classes adaptive or would they come every day?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: under the adaptive model, we may still have them follow an adaptive model. We would have to do the planning to determine how this will look.
Regarding transportation, given that we are funded to transport children , do we have authority to suggest to kids that live between 1.6 to 2 Km to walk for the months of September and October?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: the distance that has been set is a TDSB Policy, not from the Ministry. The Board has the authority to make changes to the Policy.
Do we anticipate doing this differently? For the French and Gifted because these are optional programs?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: all of these possibilities are being explored in the sub-committees. We are determining the impacts of these changes.
If a parent elects in the beginning of school they are not comfortable with sending their children and then they later change their mind, can they re-enter the adaptive model? How flexible is this?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: this is something we are looking into. The information that has come out from the Ministry is they want the registrations to be firm. We will have to continue to explore how these situation will work.
Are we considering using schools that have dramatically more room and having some of our high school/middle schools expand their boundaries a bit to try to accommodate more students? Or is their home school their school?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: we are currently sticking to the 15 cohort option. We will be looking at all of the different options we have available to us but don’t have answer at this time whether this would be feasible.
Does it mean we will be asking for a reduction in the number of instructional hours, if students are not in front of a teacher?
- Director Malloy: that is something we would need to ask and the Deputy is cognizant of this.
Having an easier time looking at the model for elementary than secondary. What does it mean for secondary and semestered schools. If there is an 2nd wave, would this be the best or would non-semestered across the Board be better?
- Associate Director Manon Gardner: we do have 25 schools that are full year schools and the remaining are semestered with a few that are quad-mestered. We looked at potential models a few weeks ago and we are looking at a few different models. At this time, quad-mestering seems to the best, we are looking at 2 courses per quadmester. We are meeting later this week to see if IB schools could move to this model. Will provide you with more details for what is best for secondary students.
- Director Malloy: secondary schools can pivot easier. It is a matter of hours delivered. We will be providing more information in the next few weeks.
Regarding Music, emergency remote learning has really struck a blow to kids doing instrumental music/band. Wondering how we are going to be able to support remote instruction of music like how kids would normally do in a group setting?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: this is being looked at through one of the subcommittees and will have further information on this,and other topics, soon.
Are we having any concerns over teachers who may refuse to go back to work for a host of reasons? If they are refusing to go to work, do we have a contingency plan in place? Do we pay the sick leave out to replace with LTOs?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: those are some of the issues that have been coming up. Our ES area have a team working through these scenarios and coming up with guidance and how to manage this. We will have further information to share soon.
We decided to suspend these meetings, are we going to have follow up meetings for Trustees to get information as we move through these timelines?
- Chair Pilkey: we will call meetings at the call of the Chair and will tie into when we have FBEC meetings scheduled.
- Director Malloy: we need time to do the work, could potentially schedule 2nd week of July.
Regarding the different models, specifically the remote option and it may not be the classroom teacher teaching that. Are we providing that level of detail to parents so they can make an informed decision?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: yes, we will.
Caretaking staff, what is the capaciaty like for caretaking staff?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: this is a topic talked about quite often. With our current compliment of staff, we would not have enough allocation to do the enhanced cleaning required. There are different models being looked at and caretaking will be front and centre in how the models will work. We have to ensure our students and staff are safe.
Follow up to Trustee Aarts, she mentioned the possibility of elementary families having the ability to attend full time. I am getting similar questions about high school as it was presented in a document from Ministry, grade 9 and 10 attend and grade 11 and 12 remote.
- Director Malloy: we are allowed to look at some aspects of this. We have asked the Ministry, some families want access to the learning that is public education. Ministry has to be clearer if certain grades are not going to attend, it has to be stated. E-learning is something that we have learned has been successful and it was with the older grades, this is different than remote learning. At this time we cannot tell families they are not permitted to come to school, we need clarity on that from the Ministry.
If we are going with the adaptive model, who is providing child care on the days where younger kids won’t be in school? Has this been brought up at the Ministry?
- Director Malloy: the Minister has been asked this at a press conference and an answer has not been given. No further clarity as we do not have the funds to provide child care on the off days.
Never seen anything like this before.
Regarding the reopening in terms of contingency plans, we have adaptive model, we have full remote model and full return to school model. What happens if at some time there is a spike and COVID comes back, are we planning for this?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: this is exactly what the contingency teams are planning for, we will be ready to adapt to any of the models.
Regarding devices, are we going to see every child with a device?
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: that is our ultimate goal, may be some budgetary decisions that have to be made.
Regarding the July 15th draft report we are going to get, the number 15 for the physical numbers in the classroom, can I ask that the report we get on July 15th talks about how we would deal with staffing numbers. What will be done in terms of absences, how are we going to make accommodations.
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: this will be part of the report on July 15th.
IB model, earlier when you were talking about quad-mesting seems to be the preferred model, is that what we will see happening with our secondary schools?
- Associate Director Manon Gardner: we will need to look at our five IB schools to see if a quad-mester model would work with these schools. We are now meeting with each of these schools separately to see if this would work.
Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins:
Shared a brief update on the reopening of child care. The background work of preparing schools to host child care and summer camps is a complex task involving many departments because of the high number of stakeholders, school sites and the guidance provided to reduce the spread of Covid19.
One of our key goals throughout this planning is to ensure that TDSB plays a role in supporting child care centres who want to re-open to children in July and August.
- There are 320 schools with some form of child care that would normally operate over the summer.
- Third party child care staff were invited to return to their exclusive space to plan for reopening based on the guidelines and directions provided by the MOE & TPH.
- When centres are ready to reopen they are required to submit an attestation to the MOE that they’ve met the criteria.
- TDSB staff from Child Care and Facilities works closely with City staff to ensure that there is a clarity of roles and responsibilities with regards to health and safety in particular cleaning routines which are fundamental to a safe reopening.
- Effective July 2 TDSB will be ready to support any child care centre that has the required authorization to reopen to children.
- Any centre who receives authorization prior to that date should contact a member of the Early Years Child Care Staff to discuss options.
- It is expected that each child care centre will reopen in their own time based on their administrative planning and the number of parents who have confirmed their need for child care.
- Requests for additional space will be assessed school by school based on a number of factors.
- The information shared this evening will be communicated to child care operators tomorrow morning.
Executive Officer Steve Shaw:
- Provided an update on summer camps. Associate Director Carlene Jackson and Executive Officer Steve Shaw met with City staff regarding accommodating a modified summer camp program called CampTO. They approached us with a proposal to run summer camps in 60 locations across TDSB. Geographic location and needs were the basis for how the 60 were selected. They will start registration for the camps tomorrow morning, with a July 13th start date. We noticed there were conflicts with the CampTO locations and 255 childcares that indicated that they wished to reopen over the summer. We were able to work through this issue with help from our permit unit and City staff. There are 3 scenarios, the first is that CampTO is the only program in the building (30 locations), the second is sharing the building but with separate gyms to maintain physical distancing (18 locations) and the third has a requirement to share the single gym space, with local decision making as to how the gym is used, while reducing the need for different cohorts to access the space on the same day (12 locations). This cooperation between the City and the TDSB Early Years and Permits will allow us to operate both the camps and the childcares at all of the requested locations. We will be setting up a working group with City staff from PFR and Children’s Services, and TDSB staff from Facilities and Early Years to work out any details around cleaning, access etc.
- In addition to Childcare and CampTO, we currently have 126 additional requests for permits for summer camps at 91 locations. Unfortunately 65 of these locations conflict with CampTO and Childcares and we would not be able to accommodate them. We are evaluating our capabilities with caretaking staff for cleaning to determine if we can accommodate any additional indoor permits, over and above Childcare and CampTO.
- We also have requests for 330 field permits at 166 TDSB schools. These permits occur during the evening after 6:00 pm and do not interfere with childcares and camp permits. Part of the difficulty with approving field permits, are concerns with individuals continuing to use our field inappropriately and not following guidelines on size of gatherings. The only use approved by the Province is for individual training, with appropriate physical distancing. Permits for large scale practices, scrimmages and games are not permitted. We don’t currently have the capability of monitoring inappropriate use.
- All permits are currently cancelled until the end of June and we are reviewing if we can allow additional community use of schools permits to begin in July. This decision will have to be made shortly in order to give permit holders time to organize their programming and notify participants.
Associate Director Manon Gardner:
Summer School update:
- We are still in the process of collecting registration information from each summer school site. Many parents wait until they see their child’s/children’s report card before making a decision about registering for summer school. Elementary students will receive their report cards today.
- Summer school classes are being set up this week. The expectation is that principals and teachers will reach out to parents of students registered for summer school towards the end of this week and into next week. Summer school begins on July 6th.
Focus on Youth update:
- We mentioned last week we were putting together a proposal. We received a soft approval from the Ministry on our proposal. Over the last 3 years, the province has given 3.08 M for Focus on Youth. Most of these dollars goes towards hiring students. The province has had a total of 8 M and we get 3.08 M. This year we were told to look at 1.5 M, our proposal was submitted for 1.8M. We are looking at hiring students for caretaking, grounds and summer school mentoring. $300 K allocated from the 1.8 M for summer employment. We are also looking at students who were part of Focus on Youth last year to see if they are looking for employment this year.
- As soon as we receive final approval from the Ministry, we will put this information into Trustee Weekly.
Associate Director Kathy Witherow:
Provided an update on preparing educators for September – preliminary plan on strategic professional learning. Have learned a lot in the last three months with our fully remote environment. We know with the 3 scenarios, there will be a need to ensure all of the teachers are up and running on digital platforms. We will be using Brightspace and Google Classrooms. Part of our plan is to use the survey to engage our educators to determine basic professional learning needs. Working with our administrators, they will work with their staff to create a continuum to know where their staff are on the continuum as well as school based supports. Part of our plan, not just with the survey, we are reaching out to our principals where effective practices have been going on these last 3 months so we have models we can use as best practices. We are in a time sensitive crunch with professional learning, we have two summer institutes planned – webinar based learning to get us started.This was a high level overview and will have more details coming in July.
Questions for Clarification:
Question for Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins – want to confirm our 3rd party child care operators have been invited back but they have to submit approvals to Ministry before they can reopen. What date in July was mentioned.
- Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins: child care operators were invited to return to the spaces they use in our school this past Monday. In order to reopen they must provide an attestation to the Ministry that they have met all the requirements when they are ready and they receive approval from the Ministry. If they provide approval prior to July 2nd, we will work with them.
Attestation and approval process, do we have a sense at this point we would be working with operators on approval for extra space. What does that look like in respect to licencing requirements from the City? Are they going to relax the requirements? We will only have to offer 30-40% of child care sites. Can you elaborate on what this will look like? How do we fit into this and what does it look like for September?
- Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins: not familiar with the number put out by the City. Anticipate that perhaps what was behind the rational might be in terms of space and the cohort sizes that child care centres have been asked to adhere to. This may reduce the number of spaces available. A number of years ago, the Ministry began to look at classroom space as more easily licence space. It is Associate Director Russell-Rawlins’ understanding that it is less complicated at this point to request additional space be added to your licence in light of what we are facing. Once the child care has the additional space added to their licence, we will work with them to try to accommodate their request for additional space. The number of spaces that are able to be offered would be a case by case. There is some priority sequencing sent to the child cares. Explained some of the factors that influence the number of spaces available at the child care centres.
Given the child care piece and potential loss of spaces, remain concerned that in the need to ensure health and safety requirements, there will a loss of opportunity for kids. The child cares, camps and permit applications, how are we communicating our role in this to the communities? Want to make sure that TDSB is not seen as the obstacle to the opportunities for their children.
- Associate Director Carlene Jackson: all of the points are very well taken. We are currently grappling with what we can provide. We also have capacity constraints. We are in the process and by the end of the week we should be in a position to know what we have the capacity for. We won’t be able to accommodate what we could accommodate in the past. We will start working on the communication plan this week and will clearly explain what our limitations were. Trustees will be included in this communication plan.
Considering all schools are expected to work under the adaptive model in the Fall, what is our realistic expectation from community use of schools perspective in the Fall? What can we tell the permit holders that traditionally have permits through the school year, when they can use the schools?
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw: we are grappling with the cohort issue. We try to maximize the permits use. There will be a higher level of cleaning required between use. It will reduce the amount of opportunities for our schools to be permitted. Groups may have to go to alternate schools, which may not be their first choice, to reduce the enhanced cleaning required.
Trustee Chernos Lin:
Possible models for schools in the Fall. Some discussion earlier about kids being in cohorts weekly vs every other day. Do we have to have deep clean between each group of 15 that comes each day?
- Director Malloy: one of the models being discussed is one cohort comes Monday-Tuesday / Deep Clean Wednesday / 2nd cohort come Thursday-Friday. Part of our contingency planning, not confirmed.
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw: the fewer times we change cohorts, the better it will be for the caretaking staff and the deep enhanced cleaning. The few times we have cohort changes, the better it is from facilities perspective and health and safety perspective.
Cleaning/cohorts/daycares, will we be reaching out to childcare centres? What happens to our caretakers and deep cleaning required by child cares? Do we have to manage this?
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw: in terms of child care, there is a procedure outlined for child care operators. Requirement in childcares is enhanced cleaning twice per day which will have an impact on our caretaking staff. Will depend on how childcare structure their days. We will support to the best of our ability. We have discussed in our internal discussions the need for additional caretaker resources (staff and cleaning materials items) and this will be part of the budget discussion.
Is there any discussion having to consider the raising the cost of permits?
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw: the permit policy contains rates approved by the Board. We could certainly look at doing that however, there is a stipulation that the board not make a profit on permits. Something we will look at. Board would need to approve the change to recover some of the costs associated with permits.
Regular permit holder in our schools for years, this year concerned they will lose the seniority of being approved in the future as they will not be in the school this year? They are wondering if they should permit it and not use it?
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw: permit policy does contain right of first refusal to go back into the space. Executive Officer Steve Shaw will take this is away and follow up in Trustees Weekly.
Going back to what Associate Director Kathy Witherow said in terms of professional learning, on top of all of this the new math curriculum that was announced today. How do we support given everything else that is going on in terms of the professional learning staff will require to teach the new curriculum? Or is there some ability to say give us a few months to figure out what we are doing.
- Director Malloy: we did push on this, they wanted the curriculum out so it could be read over the summer. We need time for professional learning and we won’t be doing professional learning in September and October. Insights and information was received, further information to come. At this point there hasn’t been concerns about this, unless we are directed otherwise and trustees will know first.
Talked about what the school day might look like in terms of the teaching and learning, at lunch time, what happens then? Outside play time, extracurricular, teams, etc. if no one is in the schools on Wednesdays for deep clean, is there any consideration for Wednesday after school – teams, etc. to take place or is that too soon to consider this? If so, this should be part of the communication to parents.
Director Malloy: the information we received up to this point is to minimize the number of students beyond the cohort. Students will eat lunch with their class. We would need to look at staffed recess. When it come to issues like clubs, we will need to take this back. We will need to be realistic on what we can manage. We will ensure this is part of the mid july work coming forward.
Getting a lot of concern on misuse of field use. Soccer games going on, basketball games going on, gatherings larger than 10. Do we have the appropriate signage in our fields moving forward, do we need to change the signage? Will space on the fields be blocked off for child cares and campTO?
Executive Officer Steve Shaw: one of the things they are looking at is whether they will need to hire more staff to patrol the sites. We don’t have the resources to do this but may have to look at increasing the allotment of security to have the presence out there. Regarding signage, we did put out signs and we may need to revisit the signage. We have a meeting tomorrow morning, this will be raised in the morning to see if the signs currently out there meet the needs or whether they need to be revised.
Additional security to monitor the COVID new rule is on the list for the additional funding COVID related expenses and should be noted as such when we do our budget.
Does campTO come with their own security staff?
- Executive Officer Steve Shaw: we have had preliminary meetings only at the moment, setting up a working group partly to talk about who does what. This working group will outline the requirements of who is responsible for doing what. Who is tracking, etc.
Trustee Laskin suggests that the responsibility of campTO be added to include the monitoring of the field.
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: Jun 16, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- The Director provided an oral update.
- We are still awaiting the GSN, we have not received this information and have been told it is coming soon. We are also awaiting government parameters regarding school opening in September. In the meantime, we continue to do our work. We will have our surveys ready to go out for staff, parent/guardians and students tomorrow or Thursday. We will collect very important insights from these surveys. We will be asking our parents/guardians for their thinking as well as asking our educators to help us understand what they are thinking. We will also be asking our staff who have been working remotely, who are not necessarily in schools, for insights.
- For tonight’s meeting the following will be discussed:
- Focus on Youth – Associate Director, Manon Gardner
- School Messenger – Executive Officer, Peter Singh
- Federal program to support grade 12 students and alumni – Director Malloy
- We learned early this week that the Federal government has created a program to assist grade 12 students who are graduating and going to post secdondary institutions as well as alumni. This particular program has the funds moving through the WE organization. Eligible students can earn between $1,000 and $5,000 for their service work this summer. For each 100 hours of service, they will receive $1,000 up to a maximum of $5,000. This program is available to our students and a letter with the details will be going out soon. The government will be making an announcement and we wanted to share with Trustees for information. We will have more information to share next Tuesday.
- Mental health supports available over the summer as well as in-person assessments – Associate Director, Colleen Russell-Rawlins
Associate Director Manon Gardner:
- Provided an update on Focus on Youth.
- This is a provincial program that has been in existence since 2008. The focus of this program is student employment. In the past number of years we were able to hire a large number of students. Given the pandemic this year, it will look quite different. In the last week or so, both Associate Director, Manon Gardner and System Superintendent, Uton Robinson have been working with the Ministry and have been asked to look into re-engagement of students in underserved communities. We are in the final stages of preparing a submission to the Ministry. We have been told not to expect the same amount of funding we have received in the past. This year we will likely receive up to 1.5M. Finalizing the re-engagement strategy with some component of student hiring. Will work with the Ministry on the final approval. Hope to bring back the final approval with the dollar amounts to Trustees in the next week or so.
Executive Officer Peter Singh:
- Provided an update on School Messenger.
- This is a tool to be used by School Councils.
- Work started early in the school year.
- COVID-19 did slow it down.
- The technology part of School Messenger is ready. Have put together a protocol to be used by School Councils. Communications will have final sign off. We will be communicating with all principals and vice principals in the system so they can start using this new protocol / tool with School Councils. We will trigger this communication to principals and vice principals in late August/early September so we are fully ready to use this with School Councils in the Fall.
Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins:
- Recently the Ministry of Education released funding for mental health supports over the summer. As a result there will be a number of social workers available to provide support in July and August. As usual, there will also be social workers available for crisis situations.
- We are working with our partners to see if it is safe and feasible for psychologists to complete any in-person assessments.
- Back to school transition programs will serve students with special education needs and provide mental health supports. We will engage staff in providing flexible supports for students as they transition back to school, whatever that will look like in the Fall. The logistics and details are being finalized therefore additional information will be shared once known through Trustees’ Weekly.
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: Jun 9, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- The Director provided an oral update.
- Sharing with you, in light of some of the questions you shared with us, the concept of what do we do if families believe the learning that is being provided does not meet expectations around real time or synchronous learning as well as other challenges. Our Parent Concern Protocol is still operative. Parents should be communicating with their teacher first and then their principal and should they still have questions related to student learning, or any other concerns, the parent concern protocol expects that parents connect with their superintendent of education.
- Want to emphasize that we are preparing for all eventualities in September, remote learning, a hybrid model as well as a face to face model. We will not be able to determine next steps until we get further information from the Ministry and TPH. If we remain in a remote learning environment, we do understand that some of the concerns that have been raised about equity of access stay front and centre and we continue to work with the concern about privacy. We also have best practices that we can share.
- We understand that in order for us to have all the appropriate information to plan effectively for September 2020, by June 30th we need our students to provide insights, we need our staff to provide insights and we need our parents to provide insights. We are working on surveys to engage our staff, students and parents. That is happening now and we believe we will gain great insights.
- Summer school and summer programming continues to be developed and organized. We are ensuring that our secondary students are going to be provided remote learning opportunities. We have had little to no interest in a hybrid model for secondary schools.
- In terms of elementary students, elementary summer school will be fully remote. The interest in elementary has been huge and we have had to pivot to online learning. Our website has been updated to reflect this information
- Focus on Youth: we are in the process of working with the Ministry who have asked us to provide insights to them in the area of re-engagement. We are also asking the Ministry about student employment. We do not have more to share on this tonight but we will have more to share next Tuesday.
- The start of families coming to pick up belongings has been going exceptionally well. Associate Director, Carlene Jackson, will share some insights tonight.
- You may have heard the news of child care openings, Associate Director, Colleen Russell-Rawlins, will share some insights tonight on this.
- Our tables continue to meet regularly and our employee groups continue to meet weekly.
- We have received some feedback that people want to sit at tables, we need to continue to think of different strategies to engage. How do we engage public? Thought Exchange is a tool that allows us, in one case, to engage thousands of people and receive insights within 3 days. With tighter timelines, with government information that may need to come to us in different intervals, and with our history of consultation, we want to come up with ideas so that all voices are heard.
Associate Director Carlene Jackson:
- Provided a brief update on the retrieval of belongings initiative. Things are going very well. The pilot schools started last week and all other schools started this week. CBC did a story on Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts. Timelines are being followed, parents and students are feeling very safe the way things are structured in the schools. Lots of people are bringing their own PPE, even though there is PPE available in the school. Not all students are opting to go into schools to retrieve their items. Approximately one third are going in and others are leaving their belongings at the schools until next year. There have been very detailed schedules created. Some asked whether schools are allowed to use parent volunteers to help with families coming in to pick up their items at school. Yes, parents are able to assist/volunteer at the schools and should they wish to do this, they should contact the school principal.
Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins:
- This afternoon, the Ontario government shared that they are allowing all child care centres to re-open in support for working families and children. This announcement encompasses all child care services for children ages 0 to 12 years old. TDSB has many child care centres in schools.
The announcement today, specified that the staff who work in these Centres may return physically to their workspace, tomorrow, to prepare to re-open their programs to children.
Toronto Children’s Services and TDSB staff have been meeting weekly to discuss plans for re-opening. We have committed to working together to coordinate staff’s return to their leased space in preparation for children. I understand a similar process is occurring through Toronto Children’s Services with Catholic and French-Language school boards.
Given the timing of today’s announcement we be issuing a message to child care operators and principals and caretaking staff with further information tomorrow.
It is expected that many parents will want information about the safety protocols that will be in place when child care centres reopen. The government has said there will be “strict safety and operational requirements“ in place, similar to the safety protocols required for emergency child care centres.
It is expected that the specific requirements are expected to be released shortly. Re-opening will take time and careful planning. There are many questions that still remain for child care centres and families.
The government has said that their plan will impose strict requirements on operators including mandatory training and reporting and support from the local medical officer of health prior to re-opening. A few of those protocols were released today.
Upon the release of all of the criteria for re-opening child care will assist TDSB staff and partners to develop and/or finalize any protocols required. (E.g., reporting of suspected cases, additional access to space etc).
Staff is currently assessing the feasibility of operating Extended Day Programs under the forthcoming requirements and/or the Summer Camp Guidelines issued 8 days ago.
In summary, child care staff will return to work shortly but programming for children will not resume yet. Considerable planning needs to take place. Specific and important information about health and safety requirements is forthcoming from the Province and Municipality. Each centre will determine their actual dates for the reopening based on the approval of their plans, program enrolment, staffing etc.
We will keep trustees and staff updated as more information becomes available.
Questions for Clarification:
When surveying teachers, parents and students, we understand the Ministry is giving us expectations before the end of June. What if the TDSB wants to do something different than the Ministry is asking us to do, what happens?
- Director Malloy: It would depend on how the information is shared with us. Is it a regulation, is it a policy and memorandum, is it shared with latitude. We would need to see how the information comes to us to better understand.
Believe that statement should go on all surveys so people are aware that we may not be able to change the expectations. There are still concerns from some parents that our system is not operating as a private school.
The information that Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins shared above should be a public statement and should be posted on our website. These are the issues that are going to be worked through. Appreciated the clarity that was provided.
- Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins: it is our intent to post our letters and ensure parents and child care operators have this information.
Regarding the structure of our planning tables, I understand we had two tables and now have one table with sub groups. Can we be told what those sub groups are?
- Director Malloy: we will publish the structure of the one steering committee and the sub-committees on our website as well as sending this information to Trustees in Trustee Weekly.
In the Ministry announcement regarding childcare, was it accompanied with a financial piece? Potentially costs will be increased with the increased cleaning required.
- Director Malloy: in terms of details, I don’t believe we receive details to any degree yet. We are waiting for further information.
Are we prepared to work with child care centres to licence new spaces if they are in need of more rooms? If centres can make it financially viable to do so.
- Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins: we will do our best. We have to coordinate the space that has been requested, if at any time we welcome permits back into our schools we will have to coordinate with them. We will work very closely with child cares to see what their needs are. Will provide further information on the questions posed by the Trustees as soon as we have this.
There isn’t a timeline attached to this, and it was sprung on us. Is there any idea on how long it will be before the child care centres are opened? This may disproportionately affect those who this is their only option. A week or a month? Also, since most of our child care is provided by TDSB, will there be a scenario where certain partnerships will open before us?
- Director Malloy: The majority of our child care is 3rd party. We will need to take these questions back to answer, it is too premature at this time. We will be in touch with Trustees and families as soon as possible after doing more work.
Thanks for sending out all the appropriate correspondence for students picking up their belongings. CBC was at Wexford School for the Arts as Associate Director Carlene Jackson mentioned. Everyone seems to be very happy going to pick up their belongings.
Child care announcement made without time given for child care providers, June 12th is in a few days. Very concerned that so much has to be done before child care centres can reopen. Hope there is a coordination with TDSB to see what we can do to help.
Question on school permits for child care, as we reopen, we know that City of Toronto is not running their child care. What do we think we can do to open up more spaces in our schools. Do we have a more concrete timeline?
John: we can’t answer until we do a little more work. We will work closely with our partners and provide insights.
Whether or not we can change the guidelines given by the province depends on the specific guideline given. When it comes to the minimum standards, we have told the teachers 15 minutes in length, twice per week is minimum standard. What are the options for us to expand on this?
- Director Malloy: how we create standards for real time learning, we went further than most Boards. This caused some tension for some educators. We are in the space now working with our employee groups to see what an appropriate standard and expectation would be now. The province owns the curriculum and assessment policy and if we are directed by the province, we cannot change that. We have said to our employee groups, in order for us to serve our students effectively, we need to do more work. Our goal is, should we be in a remote or hybrid space in September, we will have clearer information and expectations to do this. Whether the government intervenes in direction is still to be seen. They have the authority to do so and we would be expected to follow this.
Clarification is requested, not clear what the view is? Effective education, are we saying it is the view of our senior leadership that 15 minutes, twice per week, is adequate to close the school year?
- Director Malloy: yes, we started this in an emergency space. We are seeing that the majority of our educators continue to get better. There are Board polices that govern the work and there are the professionals that engage in the work. We move through this time collaboratively and collectively; we will get to a good space for September.
Do we have timing when the contingency plans will come out?
- Director Malloy: most likely will not come out until August. We are waiting for input from TPH, from province, from other areas. As soon as we gain these inputs, communication will happen mid-August and certainly before school starts in September. We know we have to communicate as soon as possible but we need to have a few more input so the communication is not confusing or unhelpful.
Summer school moving to entirely remote for elementary. Wondering whether we have any idea if the peak in interest was due to continuity of learning or if they might have been opting for hybrid model for some sort of day camp?
- Director Malloy: this may be speculation.
- Associate Director Manon Gardner: I don’t believe parents were looking for day camp. We had very few details available around what it would look like, we have received over 7,000 registrations so far. Believe it was more for the opportunity for learning.
Regarding the child care comment provided, very grateful our staff are on the ball and in connection with City of Toronto and child care providers. Don’t think this announcement takes into account the complexity of child care. Want to thank staff for staying connected to this.
COVID-19 Update Meeting Notes: Jun 2, 2020
Report From the Director of Education:
- The Director provided an oral update.
- We would like to share with you how we are shifting our structure in preparation for the Fall. Associate Director Carlene Jackson will speak to this.
- Will share with you how we are communicating with principals as it relates to the parameters around year-end celebrations this year. Executive Superintendent Brendan Browne will speak to this.
- Executive Superintendent Jim Spyropoulos will speak to the anti-Asian racism framework we are working with. Executive Superintendent Jim Spyropoulos will also speak to Pride month as well as discipline in a virtual way.
- Trustees have asked the following two questions below. These will both be answered in this week’s Trustee Weekly.
- Do we know if it’s possible to add warm water to our elementary washrooms. When students do return, frequent hand washing will be part of the new normal. Students are probably more likely to do this effectively and for the appropriate duration if they are not expected to use only cold water.
Associate Director Carlene Jackson will answer this in Trustee Weekly.
- What will happen to school council elections in the fall? Will they still have to follow the mandated timelines? Can they be done online?
Associate Director Colleen Russell-Rawlins will answer this in Trustee Weekly.
- Do we know if it’s possible to add warm water to our elementary washrooms. When students do return, frequent hand washing will be part of the new normal. Students are probably more likely to do this effectively and for the appropriate duration if they are not expected to use only cold water.
Associate Director Carlene Jackson:
- In preparation for the Fall, we currently have two separate committees looking at return to work/school. One focussed on instruction and one focussed on operations. We have realized that we need to take a more holistic approach to working together and we are implementing a new return to school/work committee structure. Steering Committee will be led by Associate Director Carlene Jackson. There will be several sub-committees to work on the focussed areas. The chairs of the sub-committees will be part of the steering committee. The chairs of the sub-committees will bring all the information to the steering committee to ensure we have coherence. We also have other members on the steering committee – TSAA, TSTN, Executive SOs, Communications, Employee Services. Will share the structure with Trustees when available and post on our website so the public can see all the preparation work taking place for returning to school.
Executive Superintendent Brendan Browne:
- Many of the milestones that would have taken place at the end of the school year have been postponed until it is safe to gather. Over the last few weeks we have had many creative ideas to celebrate students. Schools are able to work in creative ways to create safe celebrations. Have developed guidelines for celebrations to support principals. We will share this in a memo. Principals are welcome to work with their school council and parent communities to consider unique and creative ways to acknowledge these important milestones and occasions in a safe and remote way.
We are asking principals to keep the following guidelines in mind:
- TDSB schools and buildings remain closed to all staff and individuals with the exception of school-based staff, students and parents clearing out classrooms, conducting end-of-year business and retrieving their belongings.
- In support of physical distancing, the Ontario government’s emergency orders gatherings remain restricted to no more than five people. During these unprecedented times, when celebrations are happening we must not gather with others in person to celebrate.
- Mandated physical distancing of at least 2 metres or 6 feet away from each other remains a critical aspect of reducing the spread of COVID-19.
- Temporary closure of places of non-essential business (e.g. banquet halls) is still in place in Ontario to help protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario in response to the declared emergency.
Should an idea fall within the guidelines, it can proceed. We do recognize that Trustees have a lot of commitments however, principals have been asked to include Trustees in the celebrations.
- Director Malloy added that we will send the memo to Trustees so they are aware of what is being sent. Anything postponed to the Fall will be subject to any new parameters that may be in place then.
Executive Superintendent Jim Spyropoulos:
- Regarding discipline matters in a remote space, all of our policies and procedures still apply to discipline in a virtual way. Principals and vice principals are reporting discipline matters through their school structures as they normally do. We have suspensions, although they are significantly reduced.
- Pride month has always taken a significant place in the operations of TDSB. This year, thus far, it has been different however, we have updated all of our landing pages and websites to communicate our commitment to Pride. Information has been shared through Direct Line, System Leaders. New and updated resources were shared. Separate note was sent encouraging schools to raise their flags. Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) awards – working on collecting information for this. The GSA awards take place every June. As we gather information, we know the celebration will need to be postponed. We won’t be having the Pride parade as in past, Pride Toronto is working on a virtual parade and we have shared information with them. Pride will be recognized at our June Board meeting.
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.