Students Will Still Be Able to Complete School Year
April 26, 2020 12:30 P.M.
TORONTO — Today, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020, as part of an effort to keep students, staff and families safe from COVID-19.
The extension was based on expert advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health officials on the COVID-19 Command Table and is part of the government’s ongoing effort to stop the spread of the virus. The advice was to extend school closures for an additional period of time to permit updated modelling and data to inform next steps, given the government’s absolute commitment to safety.
“We will do whatever it takes to keep our students safe,” said Minister Lecce. “The government is taking a careful approach which provides our medical experts the time to review the modelling and make the best decision for the safety of our students and the future of learning.”
The government took immediate action to close schools in Ontario, the first in Canada to do so. The ministry continues to monitor the evolving situation and if necessary, the closure may be extended further to protect the health and safety of Ontario’s school communities.
At the same time the Ontario government is taking steps to ensure learning can continue. In March the province unveiled its Learn at Home portal. It offers all students high-quality resources, featuring made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French. Elementary resources are designed to help young students learn at home with interactive activities that encourage participation through entertaining and stimulating digital content. High school content was designed with a focus on STEM courses and ensures core competencies and skills are reinforced.
At the end of March the Ministry of Education unveiled the second phase of Learn at Home to ensure the continuity of learning for students. This included providing clarity for parents, enhancing education supports and creating opportunities for educators to connect with students.
The government has also partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. iPads are being purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data. Apple is providing on-going support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home. To date, over 20,000 iPads have been sent to targeted families in need. The free Rogers wireless data will be available until the end of June.
“Regardless of what transpires over the coming weeks, Ontario’s students will be able to complete their school year with confidence,” added Minister Lecce. “In particular, for students in their final year, we are removing all impediments to ensure students graduate and pursue post-secondary education.”
- Should schools be permitted to reopen, school employees will have access as of May 29, 2020.
- The Ministry of Education will move forward to replace the remainder of Professional Activity (PA) days and examination days with instructional time, as well as the introduction of an expanded summer learning program that will focus on credit recovery, supports for vulnerable students, and course upgrading. Boards are to find solutions at the local level in keeping with this direction while upholding collective agreement obligations.
- Private schools, First Nation schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will remain closed until May 6, 2020, with certain exceptions for licenced care, under an emergency order made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which only allows closures to be extended for 14 days at a time.
- Through the Ontario Together web site, the province received more than 300 proposals from businesses, organizations and everyday Ontarians to provide solutions to remote learning while schools are closed during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Next steps will be shared soon.
- Learn at Home
- Ontario Together
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19
Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –
It has been a few weeks since we have connected, so we thought it important to offer you a few important updates as we continue to navigate this time of school closure and distance learning. Let us begin by saying that we truly hope that you and your families are well and that you are finding ways to stay healthy and positive. As an Easter people we pray that the hope of the season is alive in your homes. But these are unsettling times for everyone and we believe it is absolutely OK to feel that you are not OK. We know that each of us has a unique reality and that will position us differently in terms of our ability to walk through this time and to support our children’s learning journey right now.
For the past three weeks we have begun the journey into Educator-led learning and it could not have been done without the tremendous efforts of so many. We are most appreciative to our staff who have worked so hard to put provisions in place so that we could reach all of our students. We hope that every student continues to have contact with their teacher(s) and that each one knows that we care for and value each of them. Your teachers are truly amazing and they are definitely here for you. We will reiterate that our most pressing concern remains student well being – both mentally and physically. As we have said before, it is not “business as usual”, but we do hope that students are connecting with their teachers as this is our “new normal” for the time being.
We wanted to provide you updates on a few different topics of interest to you and your children. Know that this is a rapidly changing landscape and with many uncertainties, and as there are many players to both consult and work with, as well as others who provide us vital direction or information, sometimes full clarity takes a little time.
As always, on our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WCDSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found. We also encourage you to continue to visit our WCDSBPray@Home webpage as well as our FAQ page. You can also follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted. With that said, a few updates:
Length of the closure:
We are awaiting direction from the government and Ministry of Education on this point. We expect it will be forth coming soon. While it is unlikely we will be returning to our buildings in the short term, full clarity about our return or what that might look like when we do return, may still be a while in coming.
Expectations During Distance Learning:
We realize there are different realities for all of our students and all of our educators. For that reason, each student and teacher is held to the guidelines the Ministry has provided for minimum hours. To review what we have shared previously – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity. There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.
Assessment and Evaluation:
Equity has been a significant consideration in this new landscape as not all children are equally positioned to succeed to the best of their ability when learning from home. We also know that students learning from home can place added pressure on a parent who may be juggling their own work or family related responsibilities. For these reasons, assessment in elementary is taking the form of feedback or formative assessment, rather than grading. Students can benefit and continue progressing through this feedback. For our students in secondary, they will receive both formative and summative assessments – that is feedback and grades, but teachers will be working to support a student’s best outcome and will not be penalized if the current circumstances detract from their ability to succeed. Marks will not drop below that attained on March 13th, when schools were declared closed. There is however every opportunity for a mark to improve, and for learning and achievement to be enhanced.
There will be a report card in June for all students and they will contain grades. As noted above, those grades will be largely informed by the marks students had attained prior to March 13th, but there is every opportunity for those grades to improve based on any work submitted during this time of distance learning, if there is evidence of growth and/or improved performance. In the case of graduating students, midterm marks were sent to the Universities and Colleges to assist with post-secondary admission.
We know that graduation is a significant event in the life of a student and his/her family. For this reason, this has been a difficult decision. Our secondary schools have no option but to postpone graduation ceremonies as a result of venues not being available to us. As you can appreciate secondary graduations are often large events and so they are not easily accommodated in alternate settings. We have made the decision that all of our secondary schools will hold their graduations in the fall. This will in no way impact a student’s ability to actually graduate from high school should they have met the requirements. We are still in the process of finalizing our decision in relation to grade 8 graduations and will communicate that information as soon as a final decision has been achieved.
Thought Exchange – Your Voice
As most of you will be aware, we recently engaged our stakeholders in an exercise of asking them what questions or concerns they had after one-two weeks of distance learning. Our survey closed on Tuesday April 21st in the evening and we are now starting to unpack that feedback. We are thrilled that you took us up on this invitation. We had just under 2000 participants and approximately 37,000 ratings from all our stakeholders. We know that at a very high level elementary parents are expressing thoughts about the home learning environment and the types of tasks students are assigned, about feedback and assessment, and about equity. Secondary parents are sharing thoughts about the nature of student and educator contact, and also about feedback and assessment, as well as issues related to equity. There are roughly 14 sub-themes in the Thought Exchange feedback that we have identified and there is much more analysis we can do, and it will help to inform our thinking and actions moving forward. A high level report on parent feedback is available at these two links, but much more will be shared in the weeks to come, that will map to themes and the take-aways from the feedback.
Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health. As a local and global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago. As an Easter people we believe in the power of the resurrection and the promise of new life. Certainly this signs of the season affirm that promise. Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community. #WCDSBTogether.
Loretta Notten Bill Conway
Director of Education Chair of the Board
Greetings Panther families and friends,
I hope that you are well and are finding our transition to Distance Learning to be beneficial for your children. Based on the feedback I have received from families, it sounds as though most of you are settling in to this new “routine” and are finding the teaching and learning to be helpful. Please continue to communicate with your child’s teacher as open dialogue is key during these transitional times. We are here to support you and your children in the best ways possible. Together, we WILL get through this!
Although much of what we see and hear about lately is negative news, I have been blessed with so many wonderful notes, cards, videos and pictures of our students and their families engaging in learning from home. Please continue to send these as they truly brighten my day. Watch our Twitter feed for posts and sharing – it keeps a bright light in our days. We are working on creating a yearbook and would like to include some of these pictures as examples of our Distance Learning journey. Our fabulous Co-Chair of our Catholic School Advisory Council, Julie Kobe, is coordinating yearbook photos. A CashOnline form will be sent to you in the next little while with ordering details. This will be a year to remember for SURE!
I have heard from Father Voisin and he is retiring! As you will see in the attached letter from the church, he had to retire when he turned 75 on the 7th of April. Please join me in wishing Father a wonderful and enjoyable retirement. We will certainly miss him – he was a rock in our community! Father Hope is the new parish priest and we look forward to meeting him and continuing to develop a strong faith connection moving forward. When we are once again permitted to gather, we will have a celebration for Father and the remarkable love he has shared with our school community. Letter from Father
I miss you all and hope you are healthy and safe. It is a difficult journey and we must rely heavily on the guidance of our government, our community leaders and the ministry of health. Please continue to pray as a family and find ways to demonstrate gratitude and joy.
Hello Panther Families,
Please find attached links to a video and podcast option of The Umbrella Project WCDSB webinar, Parenting Strategies to Support your Families’ Well-being through Uncertainty and Rainy Days. This is a fantastic resource for families that we hope you take the time to check out!
Hope you all remain safe and well!
Dear St Boniface family and friends,
Today is Holy Thursday and we enter the most holy of times within our Catholic faith. Under normal circumstances, we would gather as a school community to pray the Stations of the Cross at our St. Boniface Church. We would then end our day with prayer and a symbolic Breaking of the Bread ceremony. This gesture set the tone as we left the building, demonstrating our deep connection in faith and our togetherness in this Paschal mystery. This is, however, not normal circumstances, and our day looks very different. It is my sincere hope that we will all still join together as a school community to pray the Stations of the Cross virtually. Later this afternoon, another Lenten video will be shared by our FIAT team (Faith in Action) Our students still want to share their faith, still want to build community and still want to ensure we are all connected despite the distance between us. I am most grateful to Mrs. Becker for leading our students these past few weeks to create and share prayers from around Maryhill and Breslau. She is a true model of Christ in our world. When you see the video on Newswire or Twitter, please take the time to share as a family. Reflect and discuss your thoughts on the stations and how they impact our world today. There is much to be gained when sharing our faith – we build a trust, a union and a love that is deep, rich and true. May this Easter season bring you hope, joy and continued good health.
Dear Panther Families,
Please see below and share with your children. We hope that you are all staying safe and healthy.
Dear St Boniface family and friends,
I am reaching out again to connect in whatever means possible during these difficult days. As I am sure you have heard, school buildings will be closed until the first Monday of May. This news is both disappointing, and very necessary in the fight to control the spread of CoVid19. This is such an important undertaking and we all need to make a serious and concerted effort! Keeping our schools closed is our way to contribute to the change.
Thankfully, our faith is one of HOPE, and that is something strong, concrete and reliable for us to place our worries upon these days. God is always near. Even in the most dark or uncertain days, our Lord walks with us. I see evidence of God every day – He is in the budding plants as they poke through the soil from their winter sleep, He is in the song of the birds who seem to sing with joy in the spring morning sunshine, He is in the laughter I hear as my children hang out together, building relationships that are often taken forgranted He IS here – never doubt that! We are still preparing and sharing our prayer celebrations during Lent and leading up to the wonder of Easter – tune in to our Twitter @StBonifaceCES and check our school website often. I am immensely grateful to Mrs Becker who is still working with our Faith in Action student team to create and share these liturgies. THIS is what Catholic schools are all about!
I am sure you are wondering what the next couple of weeks will look like for your little student(s) at home. As we enter “Phase 2” of the ministry’s Distance Learning protocol, we will include Teacher-led Learning into our days. I know your teachers have reached out to families and have shared their platform for learning with you (ie. Google Classroom or D2L) Beginning Monday, teachers will lead learning in a more focused way with the students. Students in grades K-3 will be led in 5 hours of Teacher-Led Learning per week with a focus on Literacy and Mathematics. Students in grades 4-6 will also participate in Teacher-Led learning for 5 hours per week in Literacy and Mathematics, as well as Science and Social Studies. Students in Ms. Hayward’s class will be receiving 10 hours of Teacher-Led Learning with a focus on Math, Literacy, Science and Social Studies. All students will have learning in Religion as well. The materials provided will be accessible to your child and will be responded to by teacher feedback and guidance. As our partner in education, please continue to support your child’s learning in the various ways you have been up to now. Use the Ministry “Learn at Home” platform, our WCDSB website STEAM activities in addition to things you have found to “work” with your family dynamics. Collect items in your back yard and have your child – Google more about it – write a journal entry – imagine a story with that item and it’s magic power – take photos and create a media presentation – write an advertisement to “sell” that item etc. We know that this is not an easy time as you juggle work and home life and hopefully the Teacher-Led Learning process will assist.
Again, I wish to send my love, my care and my prayers for each and every one of you. I will write to you again, next Wednesday.