Earlier this week, we sent home a letter to families that outlined the steps the Board was taking to move learning online with our new Learning and Caring Plan. Today, I am pleased to provide you with another update and share additional information about what students and families can expect in the coming weeks.
This plan has four steps that outline how teachers will implement and deliver online learning to our students, in line with Ministry of Education requirements. We have posted an overview of the Learning and Caring Plan on the Board website at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19, along with our FAQs section that provides the most up-to-date answers that are frequently asked.
This week, your children’s teachers are contacting families, preparing their online platforms, conducting curriculum checks and planning. Next week, teachers will begin to clarify expectations for students and implement online learning. This will be an exciting time for students, teachers, principals, and support staff. As we move into this next stage of online learning, there will be many opportunities for exploration, collaboration, and engagement. Together, we will accomplish great things.
As outlined by the letter you received yesterday from the Minister of Education, teachers will deliver learning by grade groupings as follows:
- Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week
- Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week
- Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week
- Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students
I want to assure you that we will continue to plan for the needs of all of our students, including students with special education needs and English language learners. Teachers have been provided supplementary resources to design online learning opportunities to engage students in accessing concepts and skills based on the Ontario curriculum.
We will be reaching out to families who have requested technology and internet service in the coming week to share how we can provide the support your family needs to access online learning.
As we implement our Learning and Caring Plan, we know that each class may look different depending on the student and class needs, area of study, and teacher’s professional judgement. We ask for your patience as we chart this new course together. I want to acknowledge the work of our educators and staff in preparing for this transition to new ways of teaching and learning.
I know our educators are looking forward to reconnecting with their students, and we will continue to navigate these uncertain times together, keeping our students at the centre of all that we do.
Director of Education
I hope this correspondence finds you, your family and loved ones healthy and safe. As we shared yesterday, the Premier of Ontario and the Ontario Minister of Education issued an extension of school closures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Schools will remain closed to students until May 4, 2020. Please see my video message about this extended closure announcement.
Today, the Ontario Minister of Education has written a letter to all families and asked that school boards share it broadly. You may find a copy of this letter on the Board’s website at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19.
Teacher-led learning will begin the week of April 6, and teachers are reaching out this week to check-in on students and families. Details on our Board’s Learning and Caring plan for continued learning will be released soon. In the meantime, you can see my video message to hear how YRDSB is supporting Learning and Caring through the extended closure.
Please continue to follow us on Twitter @YRDSB and check your email to receive updates from us during this rapidly changing global situation.
I wish you continued health and well-being.
Director of Education
I am writing to you today exactly two weeks since our government declared a State of Emergency in the province.
I know this period has not been easy for you or your children, especially as the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak begin to have increasing effects on your day-to-day lives and livelihoods.
The battle against COVID-19 has not been easy, but I continue to be incredibly inspired by the bravery and steadfastness you and your children have demonstrated in our efforts to stop the spread of this outbreak. Since Cabinet made the decision to close the public-school system on March 12, we have seen cascading steps taken by the public and private sectors to protect our most vulnerable.
I want to assure you that, as Minister of Education, the health and safety of your children remains our government’s utmost priority; there is simply no priority more critical. Every decision we make is rooted in the fundamental commitment to safeguard your children’s well-being. We are incredibly grateful for the considerable understanding and flexibility you and your children have shown during this period of school closure.
With that commitment in mind, today our government decided to extend the closure of public schools in the province to May 4, along with child care centres and private schools until April 13. In ordinary times, this would be a difficult decision. However, given that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health concurs that this is in the best interest of you and your children’s’ health, this decision was clear and obvious.
While this announcement is consistent with public health policy, I know that this will raise questions about what your children will be doing over the coming weeks with regards to their education, as in-school instruction will not be taking place.
Today, I was proud to announce our government’s plan for the next phase of Learn at Home and how we are supporting students, families, and educators during this period.
To start, we have instructed school boards that, by Monday, April 6, teacher-led learning will resume across the province. Students will begin receiving communication from their teachers and school board staff this week to determine the best way your child can continue learning during this period. For our youngest learners, especially, I am asking you to lend a helping-hand in facilitating these initial conversations with educators when they begin reaching out. This early communication will help ensure all students can participate actively and fully in the rich online learning strategy. We have designed the strategy based on the technology and resources that currently exist at home.
I also know many families in the province may not have access to the technology and broadband connection needed to participate fully in online learning. To remedy this situation, our government has instructed local school boards to offer their existing inventory of computers and devices to students who do not have in-home access. Boards will work with the Ministry to develop a plan to expand the technology to those who need it. I also want to recognize that boards have explored alternative options for students’ access to technology, including engaging in regular conversations with telecommunications providers to determine what options exist to allow families to access Ontario’s world-leading online learning resources.
This is especially necessary for rural and remote communities where connections might not be optimal. I will update you as these conversations regarding technology and broadband options continue to evolve.
As part of this plan for online learning, our government has outlined the minimum expectations for student work-time in a given week based on learning materials and work assigned by your student’s teacher. These expectations, for each teacher, include:
• Kindergarten to grade three: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math;
• Grades four to six: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies;
• Grades seven to eight: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies; and,
• Grades nine to 12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students, and 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students, with a focus on credit accumulation and graduation.
Based on these expectations, this second phase of LearnAtHome will require students to adopt academic discipline and commitment to ensure that they can experience continued academic growth and achievement. I know our students are up to the task.
While these are unprecedented times, I encourage you to support and enable your children to fully commit to the strong learning program we have created for this period of school closure. Your support, inspiration, and motivation will continue to prepare your children to succeed in their learning journey.
I know this period is concerning for parents of students in a graduating cohort. I have said before, and I want to reiterate: no student will have their graduation jeopardized by the developments of COVID-19. I am working closely with the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, and the post-secondary sector. Our government will ensure students, who plan on entering college or university in September 2020, have our full support to accomplish this goal.
As students continue to accumulate credits during this closure period, we will provide further information about how students can align with the post-secondary application process in the coming weeks.
I understand parents with children who may have special education needs, have concerns about at-home learning and the physical absence of educational support staff and resources during this period. I am firmly and unequivocally committed to ensuring that all students continue to have access to the wrap-around supports that promote continued learning and development.
Our government has instructed boards to enable immediate restoration of communication between students and educational assistants, paraprofessionals, and other education workers to reintroduce the continuity of professional support to students. We will not allow any student to fall through the cracks during this unprecedented time. My Ministry is equipping educators with the tools and supports they need to maximize the opportunities and achievements of all learners in the province in an online setting.
While much of the discourse around COVID-19 focuses on the impacts on physical health, I want to acknowledge the significant effects this outbreak may be having on the mental health of Ontarians. Particularly, our youngest learners may be struggling to fully understand and process what it means to their lives, families, friends, and communities. This may very well be a time of fear and anxiety for your child, even if it is not readily apparent.
While you and your children may have many questions about what the future holds, I want to express my heartfelt hope that all children know there are a variety of supports to help process and overcome the multitude of emotions and reactions they may be facing during this period. Our government has directed school boards to ensure mental health workers and professional staff are ready to engage with students immediately in a secure and safe conversation. We continue to support the incredible work being done to provide wrap-around counselling and resources to students across the province.
We have numerous organizations providing critical and professional support for children facing mental health concerns or distress. For example, Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.
As we move forward in the next phase of school closure, the expectations of parents, guardians, students, educators, and my Ministry will continue to rise. Having already met countless driven and determined students, educators, and educational workers across the province, I know that we are ready to meet the challenges ahead.
To you, and your child, I want to extend my sincere and unwavering commitment to ensuring every student in the province can continue learning in Ontario’s world-class education system. Our collective commitment to inspiring, supporting, and uplifting our future leaders during this time is unwavering.
The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education
During this week, staff from all schools will be contacting families to check in on students. We want to ensure that you receive information from our school, as well as the School Board. As we move forward with online learning opportunities, we want to confirm that students can access a digital environment. As our staff will not be calling from our school, you may see calls coming from, “unknown caller ID”, “Private Name” or “Private Number.” Throughout this week, we ask that you pick up the call as it may be your child’s teacher. We also know that there is an increase in fraudulent calls, please be assured that your child’s teacher will always identify themselves as such and will only ask questions regarding your child’s education. Just as a reminder, please do not to give sensitive personal information (such as social insurance numbers, etc.) over the phone. Your child’s teacher would not ask this type of information during a call.
To ensure that our staff can connect with all our families, we will encourage that calls be kept focused. We know that you will have many questions that are still being worked on at the provincial level. Once we have further information, we will share updates at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19 , Twitter @YRDSB, and emails.
We have received notice from the Premier of Ontario that the current closure of all Ontario schools will be extended to reopen May 4, 2020. This is in an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. All schools in York Region District School Board will continue to be closed to students during this time. Schools are expected to reopen May 4 and you will receive additional information about the opening closer to this date.
It is critically important at this time to continue to follow the direction of public health to practise social distancing in order to flatten the curve of this pandemic virus.
YRDSB Learning and Caring Plan for teacher-led learning
This week, your child’s teacher will be reaching out to you to check in with your family and let you know that beginning next week, we will be implementing online teacher-led learning for our students. Students can expect some online learning activities and opportunities, as well as information about how to connect with their teacher. You will be receiving information from your child’s teacher about what this will look like for your child. While our schools may be closed, we remain dedicated to supporting your child’s learning and well-being.
If you do not have access to technology or the internet, please complete our questionnaire, or let your child’s teacher know when they contact you.
What does the school closure mean for students?
I’m sure you have a lot of questions and concerns. You want to know about marks, graduation requirements, post-secondary applications, and more. While I don’t have all of the answers today, I’m going to share as much as I can, and I will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.
We know that students may be missing important milestones this year - trips, athletics and important activities. We share your disappointment and will look for ways to celebrate their achievements when students return to school. For now, it is important to focus on keeping our community safe and healthy.
You may be concerned about your child’s emotional well-being. You can find tips on how to speak to your child about COVID-19 on our website. We also recognize that this situation is affecting families in different ways. We have compiled a list of community supports and resources, also available on our website.
I wish you continued health and well-being.
Director of Education
York Region District School Board has been identifying opportunities to support the continuity of learning and caring for all of our students. We know not all of our students have access to the technology they need to access these resources, and we want to hear from our families.
We have created a brief questionnaire to help us understand how many of our students require technology (devices or internet access) to continue learning at home. If you have multiple children attending a YRDSB school(s) who require technology, please fill out this form for each child.
If your child has access to a device such as desktop, laptop or Chromebook with Internet, you do not need to complete this questionnaire.
Director of Education
I hope this letter finds you and your family and loved ones well. I know you have a lot of questions about how educators will be supporting students in their learning during the school closure.
I also know many of our staff members and students have been keeping in contact during the closure, whether it’s been through a classroom tool or social media. We all care about our students and families and want to maintain these important connections.
As a board, we have been identifying opportunities to support the continuity of learning and caring. Our staff will provide important support in gathering information to coordinate learning and caring plans for our students during this challenging and unprecedented time. Not all of our students have access to technology and we are looking at ways to make technology accessible. Plans are in place for school staff to connect with families to check to see how our students are doing, and gather information on particular technology needs of students and families.
As you know, on March 20, the province provided phase one of this learning, which includes online opportunities for students to engage in independent learning through Learn at Home. Additional online learning resources are available on our Board website. We know the importance of teacher-led learning, and this will play an important role in our efforts to support student learning and well-being, which will inform phase two of learning continuity. Although this is still not ideal, we need to find new ways to engage and learn and work together, while apart. We are continuing to work with the Ontario Ministry of Education to prepare for the continuity of learning and caring across YRDSB and the province.
We are also receiving questions regarding how long the school closure will last. The Ministerial Order stated that all publicly funded schools would reopen on April 6. However, on March 23, Premier Doug Ford stated during a press conference that it is “unlikely that schools will reopen on April 6. ”At this time, school boards have not received notice, additional information or clarification on the timing of schools reopening. As soon as we receive this information, we will share it with families.
I know you still have many questions about assessment, evaluation, what the day-to-day will look like. We don’t have all of the answers to your questions today. Our intention is to share information with you as soon as possible, as we receive it. We will continue to share these plans with you.
Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families and your loved ones. I know everyone is dealing with a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty at this time. If you or others in your family are experiencing emotional distress, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. There are also crisis counselling supports available, if needed, through the KidsHelpPhone 1-800-668-6868 or 310-COPE (905-310-2673) and Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600.
For those in our community who are essential workers, thank you for all that you are doing to keep our communities safe, healthy and fed. For those who are able, please stay home as much as possible to flatten the curve of this pandemic and help keep our healthcare workers and first responders safe. Further, I want to thank all our families who are staying at home. Although we have never faced something like this before, we can get through this together, while staying apart.
Director of Education
Dear YRDSB Parents and Guardians,
I recognize that this is inconvenient and difficult time for all involved and appreciate your concerns regarding the continuation of learning for your children.
The Ontario Ministry of Education has announced online courses and more educational programming to support learning for Ontario students. This education programming is intended to keep students engaged in learning. The Minister of Education has stated that this is Phase One of continuity of learning and he will provide additional updates in the coming days.
We know families are concerned about students falling behind academically. Online learning will be available for students through Learn at Home. Learning resources are available for parents, families and students on the Board’s website. We will be doing our best to support the continuity of learning during this unprecedented time.
Although schools are closed, the Ministry of Education has stated that it is preparing in the event that the closure period is further extended. Specifically, the Ministry is working to ensure that students will be able to continue their coursework. I am sure you have a lot of questions and concerns about how this will look. Understandably, you are concerned about your child’s academics. While we don’t have all of the answers to these questions today, we will continue to share as much as we can, and we will continue to keep you updated as we learn more.
At YRDSB, our staff have been working to provide additional resources for students and families that support the provincial curriculum. Our school board created a list of learning resources connected to a variety of subject areas and grades to support families through the school closures.
Thank you for your patience as we work through this changing situation.
I hope you have found time during this past week to spend time with your family, and support loved ones, even if not in person. For many, the week may have been filled with contrasting experiences, from a potentially slower pace to feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. As the pandemic continues to unfold, we urge you to prioritize your health and self-care, and to look after the health and well-being of your loved ones.
While we may not be able to connect in person, this morning, I filmed a video message for all of our staff members.
We recognize that many of you may have vulnerable loved ones, including those with health issues or the elderly, and these circumstances may present additional stress and anxiety. In addition, you or your friends and family may be feeling some anxiety or the effects of the current economic situation. Below are some resources to support you and your loved ones in this challenging time:
- Our Employee and Family Assistance Program is provided by ComPsych, a third-party company. They are available 24/7 at 855-498-9420 and can provide employees and family members confidential access to counselling, legal guidance, financial guidance, work-life balance support and much more.
- ComPsych has also created a specific COVID-19 Resource Hub.
- York Region has information about COVID-19, including how to protect yourself and your family, on their website: ca/covid19.
- Human Resources Services has compiled a list of several community-based wellness resources for a variety of health and wellness topics and concerns.
- The Working from Home Wellness Guide provides tips on how to practice self-care for working remotely during this closure period.
- The Board website has tips for speaking with your child about COVID-19.
Please take the time to update your email automatic reply message as follows:
Thank you for your email, please note that the Ontario Ministry of Education has issued an order to close all publicly funded schools from March 14 until April 5 to interrupt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, I am working remotely and may take longer to reply to your message. If you have any questions, please visit www.yrdsb.ca or the Board’s twitter account @YRDSB.
I will continue to keep you updated as we learn more. If you have questions at any time, please forward them to your Superintendent or Senior Manager, who will bring them forward to the Board’s Emergency Operations Committee. Please continue to check your Board email regularly for further updates, as well as the updated staff FAQ. I also encourage all staff members to follow the guidelines set out by public health, including social distancing and requirements for self-isolating if you are returning from travel.
Thank you for your ongoing efforts and dedication and for the important role you continue to play in supporting our students, families and communities. Please continue to look after yourselves and each other. While it’s important to maintain social distance, it’s also important to stay connected with each other, and I hope everyone will continue to check in with colleagues. Our relationships are what give us strength during these challenging times.
Director of Education
York Region District School Board
Trouvez des ressources supplémentaires afin que les élèves du primaire et du secondaire mettent en pratique les mathématiques et la littérature et apprennent à la maison.