Update to Return to Learning

This article is reposted from https://www.tdsb.on.ca/News/Article-Details/ArtMID/474/ArticleID/1747/Update-to-Return-to-Learning

Today, the Government of Ontario announced that, with the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continuing to rise, all schools will move to remote learning – with some exceptions for students with complex medical and/or special education needs – starting Wednesday, January 5 until at least Monday, January 17.

I know that today’s news will be difficult for many students and families. Please know that our priority continues to be connection with students, supporting their mental health and well-being and providing engaging and meaningful academic learning experiences.

More information will be shared in the coming days, and you will be contacted by your school with more specific information on remote learning at your child’s school, but please find below important information that will guide us in the days ahead.

Students Currently Enrolled in In-Person Learning: Remote learning will begin for these students on Wednesday, January 5. In the meantime, teachers will be reaching out to these students/families to ensure everyone is set up on the online learning platform such as Brightspace and/or Google Classroom.

Students Currently Enrolled in Virtual Learning: Classes will continue as normal beginning Wednesday, January 5.

Devices for Students: While many families already have devices for students, including some TDSB devices that were shared last year, for those families who still need a device, they are encouraged to contact their school. Please note that devices will be provided based on availability and may take time to distribute.

Elementary and Secondary Switching (in-person vs. virtual learning): For elementary students,the switch form remains open until Friday, January 7. Given the time needed to organize classes, this date cannot be extended. Families and students who do not wish to make a change do not need to complete a form. For secondary students, the switch form, originally closed last month, will be reopened between Wednesday, January 5 and Friday, January 7 and more information will be shared tomorrow.

Child Care Centres/Before and After School Programs/Extended Day Programs/EarlyON: Child care centres located in schools serving infants/toddlers/preschoolers can continue to operate during this period, however parents should connect directly with the operator for confirmation. Before- and After-School programs, Authorized Recreation and Extended Day Programs serving students in Kindergarten to Grade 6, will be closed to families until the return to in-person learning. All TDSB EarlyON programming will be offered virtually until further notice. Please note, we are currently waiting for further information about the availability of Emergency Child Care for 4-12 years olds in TDSB schools.

Special Education: While all schools, including congregated sites and those with Intensive Support Programs (ISPs) such as DD programs and MID programs, will be closed during this period, parents/guardians are asked to contact their Principal to request any in-person support for their child/children with complex medical and/or Special Education needs. Principals, in consultation with Superintendents of Education, will review all requests on a case-by-case basis and assess the possibility to develop plans to support these requests. Principals will communicate the plans directly with the parents/guardians. Please note that while requests are being reviewed and plans are being developed, remote learning will be available to all students. Staff will ensure that additional HEPA filters are relocated from elsewhere in the school to Special Education learning spaces during this time.

Mental Health and Well-Being: We recognize the challenges that have come with the continued uncertainty of the pandemic. We will continue to prioritize students’ mental health and well-being. In addition to what your school may provide, you can access supports and resources directly on our website, including mental health and well-being toolkits, virtual drop-in office hours for parents/caregivers, and culturally-responsive resources.

Vaccinations: We are currently consulting with our healthcare partners and the Ministry of Education about prioritizing vaccinations, including booster doses, for education workers. And, we will continue to work with Toronto Public Health to support the rollout of vaccines for children aged 5 and older to support families who want their child to receive the vaccine and ensure strong protection against COVID-19.

In the weeks ahead, we will continue to refine our health and safety practices as we prepare to welcome students and staff back to in-person learning.

We are here to support you in every way that we can. Thank you for your continued patience and support as we make this transition and we hope to see students in person again, soon. We hope you and your family stay well.