A Grade 10 student at Dr. G.W. Williams S.S. achieved a rare perfect score in a University of Waterloo math contest.
Gavin Song was the only student completing the Cayley (Mathematics) Contest to receive a perfect score.
“When I found out I’d received top honours, I was obviously shocked and very excited,” Song said. “I was also quite happy that my hard work and dedication to learning and practicing contest math paid off.”
Song, who wants to attend the University of Waterloo for post-secondary for computer science or technological research, credits his parents for fostering his interest in math at an early age.
"This achievement by Gavin Song is nothing short of mind blowing, to both myself and our whole math department. We have seen some very impressive performances on these University of Waterloo contests, but never a perfect score,” said Brad MacIntosh, Mathematics Department Head at Dr. G. W. Williams S.S. “We are so proud of Gavin for his 150 out of 150 score! We wish school was a little more normal right now, so we could celebrate Gavin's performance with the whole school population." MacIntosh noted that over the past 20 years, over 500,000 students have written the contest and only 19 have received a perfect score.
“The staff at Williams is so impressed at Gavin’s incredible accomplishment. Gavin is a collaborative learner who does not settle for the status quo. He is respected by his peers as a humble student who reserves his words and when he does contribute others stop to listen as what he has to say is valued. We are fortunate that we have been able to nurture his learning in his time at Williams and know that he is destined to make a difference,” added Principal Melissa Schmidt.
“Lisa has made a significant impact on the school community for over five years,” said Gwen Al-Kas, a parent who made the nomination on behalf of the parent community. She has worked with Leoni on a number of initiatives as a school volunteer and member of the Regency Acres P.S. School Council.
Leoni outlined her mandate for an inclusive space as soon as she was named principal at the school. In a message to parents, she said “I am committed to fostering a supportive educational environment” and “as educators, we are committed to working as partners with you and your children to create an inclusive and equitable learning culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected.”
She went right to work, leading a community-wide school re-visioning process. She asked every student, parent, and staff member to fill out a survey asking them what the areas they felt the school should focus on were. Some of the initiatives that were born out of this included the Farm to School Grant, where Regency Acres became one of only three schools in the province be awarded money to provide healthy, locally sourced food to students and the Regency Gives Back Fund, where the parent council gives money back to local community groups and non-profit organizations. The school is recognized by Activate Aurora as an ‘Active School’ and has been named a Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Legacy School during her tenure.
“We are all very proud of Ms. Leoni’s work and leadership at Regency Acres Public School. We are thrilled to see her recognized for her efforts in exemplifying not only what a vibrant community leader means in the Town of Aurora, but also within the York Region District School Board,” said Superintendent of Education Neil Gunathunge.
Leoni will receive her award during an online awards ceremony with Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas on June 15, 2020.
Students and staff at Rosedale Heights P.S. in Thornhill are showing their gratitude to frontline workers with the Rosedale Heights P.S. Book of Gratitude.
Grade Five Teacher Lorne Rembach, his student Jett, and Jett’s mother Nicolle came up with the idea. They wanted to incorporate mindfulness and gratitude into the everyday lives of students, including in the classroom. When schools closed as a result of the pandemic in mid-March, Nicolle reached out to Rembach and suggested a project to display gratitude to those on the front lines. It was then the Rosedale Heights P.S. Book of Gratitude was created.
Students from every grade participated in the project, from drawing pictures to writing paragraphs of gratitude. Rembach compiled the submissions into a single document, and Nicolle arranged to print the book.
Jett and Nicolle took printed copies of the book to frontline workers across the region, including police and fire stations, Mackenzie Health Centre, residential homes and a local grocery store.
“Jett is the perfect ambassador for this project”, Rembach said. “Jett is a kind and compassionate student. He tries to model kindness every day and this project would not be a success without his interest and leadership.”
“We are so proud of the work, the collaborative accomplishment and the simple fact that this community activity will be something that provides a lasting memory of this difficult time”, said Rosedale Heights P.S. Principal Vincent Anania. “During regular school hours we are always looking for acts of kindness, acts of empathy and acts of gratitude.”
I hope you and your families are healthy and well. Our staff miss seeing our students in person each day. I know I speak on behalf of all staff when I say, we look forward to seeing everyone as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Your voice is important to us and we are asking for you to share your thoughts through a quick, online survey. We are hoping to learn your thoughts and ideas in real-time about the Learning and Caring Plan, until the end of this school year and to inform decision making for our return in September.
You can participate anonymously and your responses will be confidential. As always, your participation is voluntary.
Your responses will help our Board assess and inform best practices related to our programs and services.
2020 Grade 6, 7 and 8 Summer School
Summer Learning Plan
The province unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan for Ontario students to ensure students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months. Summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed.
The summer learning seven-point plan will be focused around the following elements:
- Expanded core programming represents 'traditional' summer school courses focused on grades 9 to 12, with additional opportunities for grade 8 students to better prepare.
- Introduction of upgrading courses, which will allow students to upgrade their mark in a course in half the time it would have taken them previously.
- Targeted supports for vulnerable students to support access to non-credit ministry educational programs and leadership supports.
- Focused programming for students with special education or mental health needs, including dedicated learning supports such as access to educational assistants and existing after-school programs that could be delivered through summer school
- Communicating volunteer opportunities for students so that students can leverage virtual volunteer opportunities where possible;
- Summer programming in Provincial and Demonstration Schools to focus on continued learning for our students with specialized learning needs; and
- Key concept mapping for next year's learning to focus on compulsory, high-demand and pre-requisite secondary courses
Summer Camps and Programs
In Ontario, there are over 450 camps which provide both day and overnight camp services, employing thousands of Ontarians, including students. These camps provide families with children, youth, and adults with special needs, with much needed respite, while engaging individuals in meaningful activities.
Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, indoor and outdoor summer day camps may be permitted in July and August of this year with strict health and safety guidelines to be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Any final decisions to permit summer day camps will be based on trends from key public health indicators continuing to show progress at the time camps are scheduled to open officially. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
In addition to expanding the pre-existing summer school course offerings, summer programs are being designed to help students upgrade their courses and refresh their learning. Non-credit programs will be available to deliver existing or modified programs to support vulnerable students. A new two-week program for students with special education needs and/or mental health needs will focus on closing gaps in skills development and learning, and on establishing routines. To support students with special education needs participate in summer program offerings, the ministry will also be providing a top-up to boards for summer school programs in 2020.
Learn at Home Resources
A more user-friendly Learn at Home site was also launched today, and an adapted summer learning site will be developed to provide resources to help students refresh their learning in preparation for 2020-21 courses. The site will focus on compulsory, high-demand, and prerequisite secondary courses, such as math, science, English, and French.
The resources are available at Ontario.ca/LearnatHome.
Access to Services, Tools, and Technology
As part of the Government of Ontario's aim to build-up and improve the Learn at Home program, the government working with non-profits, organizations, and businesses, is offering a comprehensive suite of services and resources to Ontario school boards to support students, parents and educators during the current school closure. School boards have asked for access to services, tools, and technology that can aid them in the delivery of modern and quality online learning.
The government launched the Ontario Together portal to solicit offers and encourage private enterprise and the non-profit sectors to step forward to propose solutions that historically have impeded learning from home. As a result of those submissions, Ontario is moving forward with 34 partnerships with organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak. The government remains committed to an inclusive online learning program that enables local school boards to provide access to the technology and software required to learn from home.
Through the government's Broadband Modernization Program, the province is also working with all school boards to deliver sustainable, modernized networks with improved Internet access at the target speed. Upon completion, all students are expected to have the same equitable access to digital resources across the province. As of March 31, 2020, broadband modernization is complete at 1,983 schools and in progress at 2,954 schools.
- Canadian Foundation for Economic Education: (For Grades 7 to 12); a suite of free, bilingual educator, parent and student resources focused on financial literacy.
- Crayola Canada: (For Kindergarten to Grade 9); free resources for educators, such as lesson plans created by Ontario-certified educators, including Indigenous educators.
- Credit Counselling Society: (For Grades 9 to 12); free access to a suite of teacher resources and lesson plans to introduce students to financial literacy topics, including budgeting and setting financial goals.
- Enriched Academy: (For Grades 9 to 12); free access to an online financial education course for students.
- Get it Guide Inc.: (For Grades 6 to 9); free access to math activities, slideshows and worksheets for educators, parents and students.
- Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO): (For Kindergarten to Grade 12); free access to more than 200 resources and professional development materials for educators and parents to support students with learning disabilities in areas such as math, learning strategies, and mental health.
- Learning for a Sustainable Future: (For Kindergarten to Grade 12); free access to more than 1,300 teacher-reviewed, curriculum-aligned classroom resources (lesson plans, books, videos, outdoor activities, and games/apps) to explore environmental, social and economic issues with students.
- Let's Talk Science: (For Kindergarten to Grade 12); A variety of free curriculum-aligned resources and activities to support educators, families and youth across Canada in STEM learning.
- Logo Computer Systems: (For Grades 4 to 8); free access to Lynx Coding, a programming environment to support students in learning to code.
- Nelson Education: (For Kindergarten to Grade 12); free access to myNelson books.(For Grades 6 to 10); free access to the Edwin digital ecosystem to facilitate remote teaching and learning.
- Ontario Council for Technology Education: (For Grades 4 to 12); online learning content will be created for the ministry to support technological education educators and students.
- Pearson Canada: (For Kindergarten to Grade 12); Free access to digital versions of educational resources through the Pearson K-12 Resources at Home portal for teachers, students and families. Discount of 50% on print editions of specified student texts, student workbooks and teacher's guides
- Perimeter Institute: (For Grades 5 to 12); free access to resources for science and physics educators that include hands-on activities, lesson plans and modifiable worksheets.
- Prodigy Education: (For Grades 1 to 8); a free adaptive, online game-based learning platform featuring more than 75,000 math questions. Educators can set up virtual classrooms, assignments and performance reports.
- Sprig Learning: (For Early Years to Grade 1); Free access to Sprig Home, a resource with hundreds of activities to foster language development for young children. Sprig Learning also offers free access to Sprig Library an app downloadable on Apple devices.
- Math Help Services: (For Grades 6 to 10): Reduced pricing for an Ontario curriculum-based math solution for teachers, students and parents that feature detailed video lessons and scored quizzes.
- TorStar Corporation: (For Grades 4 to 12); Free access for Ontario Certified Teachers to the Toronto Star ePaper edition and education resources to support students' media literacy skills.
- Vretta Inc.: (For Grades 9 to 10); free access to Ontario College Math Test - High School Edition, an online learning platform that enables teachers to assign diagnostic assessments to identify gaps in student numeracy skills.
- YMCA Ontario: (For Grades 1 to 10)YGym/GymY supports free access to student physical activity content at home and is led by YMCA coaches with content based on Canada's Physical Activity Guidelines
- Zorbit's Math Adventure: (For Kindergarten to Grade 3); free access for educators to an innovative and adaptive math instruction and activity program.
Health and Well-Being:
- Egale: providing access to webinars, additional online resources, targeted counselling supports for identified students who are experiencing mental health challenges, and virtual Gay-Straight / Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) discussion groups in English and French.
- Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (Ophea): additional free online resources and supports (such as interactive lessons), in both English and French, for educators, families, and students to enable safe and developmentally appropriate learning opportunities related to Health and Physical Education.
- Start2Finish Canada: will make their Daily 20 virtual physical activity program available to all school boards, schools, teachers, parents and students to support physical and mental health activities during COVID-19.
- Centre ontarien de prévention des agressions (COPA): access to resources (all of which are available in English and French, some in additional languages including Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish and Indigenous languages) and online training in French and English, for educators, families and students about online safety, bullying prevention, mental health, and empathy.
- Cogeco: discounted high-speed cable Internet and unlimited data usage.
- Eastlink: discounted high-speed cable Internet and unlimited data usage.
- iLeague Wireless: 4G/LTE wireless data-only plans at bulk rates on Rogers and Telus networks
- Kajeet: cellular (4G/LTE) school bus and student Wi-Fi "hotspots" with Internet access via the Bell and Rogers networks.
- Shaw Communications: has opened up all of their 1,800 Wi-Fi hotspots in Northern Ontario for free to the public during COVID-19.
- Xplornet: discounted 4G/LTE residential Internet connections and unlimited data usage.
Hardware & Devices:
- HEXA: up to 100,000 discounted Chromebooks and 150,000 other tablets.
- Piicomm: up to 257 discounted Lenovo Chromebooks and laptops.
- Corporations for Community Connections (CFCC): up to 10,000 free used and refurbished HP laptops.
- We Are The Villagers: up to 35 discounted used and refurbished HP and Dell laptops.
We have received notice from the Premier and Minister of Education that the current closure of all Ontario schools will be extended until the end of this school year, as part of the ongoing effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. All schools in York Region District School Board will continue to be closed for the rest of the school year.
It is critically important at this time to continue to follow the direction of public health to practise social distancing to flatten the curve of this pandemic virus. Please note that, in accordance with the Provincial Emergency Declaration, school grounds remain closed and inaccessible to the public, which includes playgrounds and school yards.
Items in the Schools
The provincial emergency order requires that schools be closed to students, however we know families will have questions about picking up items left at school. We are working with public health on a safe process for families to pick up these items. As soon as we have information, we will share this with families.
We will continue to support your child’s education through online teacher-led learning, and I thank you for your patience as we have been implementing new ways of teaching and learning on this scale. If you have any questions about your child’s online learning, we encourage you to reach out to your child’s teacher. While our schools may be closed, we remain dedicated to supporting your child’s learning and well-being.
We also continue to prioritize the mental health and well-being of our students and families, and have supports and resources available. Please speak with your child’s teacher, principal or visit our website www.yrdsb.ca/covid19 for more information.
I’m sure you have a lot of questions and concerns about what these closures mean for your child’s education. The Minister of Education continues to reassure Ontarians that school closures will not affect students’ ability to graduate and that Ontario students will not lose this school year. As the Premier mentioned today and we had previously communicated, students will receive an end-of-year report card. More details will follow as we receive them.
Summer Learning Programs
The Premier and Minister of Education also announced enhanced summer learning opportunities. At this time, we don’t have additional information on the implementation of this announcement. We will send more details as soon as we are able.
Graduations and Celebrations
I know many students are also concerned about the postponement or cancellation of graduations and other important milestone events. Due to the extension of the closures, we have made the difficult decision to cancel end-of-year celebrations such as proms and semi-formals. In addition, we are regrettably postponing June graduations with a goal to reschedule for the fall of 2020. More information will be made available as soon as logistics are finalized, including information on how graduates may obtain a copy of their diploma.
On our website www.yrdsb.ca/covid19 you can find information about school closures, answers to many of the questions you may have about school closures as well as resources to support student learning and student and family well-being. You can also follow the Board’s twitter feed @yrdsb for up-to-date information.
I wish you continued health and well-being.
Two York Region District School Board students have developed a non-invasive ventilation mask prototype to help with a shortage of invasive ventilators to treat patients with COVID-19.
Marcus Chan of Richmond Hill High School and Ryan Lam of Unionville High School were inspired to create their PolyMask prototype after learning of a shortage of invasive ventilators. Using Fusion 360 to create their initial design, the team has now used 3D printing to create a prototype.
Non-invasive ventilation has not been used to treat patients with COVID-19, due to a process called aerosolization. Aerosolization is the process by which a virus can be dispersed in small particles. The PolyMask aims to be the first non-invasive ventilation mask to introduce a filtration system that eliminates aerosolization.
“When we realized there was a shortage of ventilators, we started researching how to build an inexpensive option to aid in the fight against COVID-19,” said Marcus Chan. “By creating a filtration system for the PolyMask, we hope to make non-invasive ventilation a viable option to help treat patients with COVID-19.”
“We both saw an opportunity to learn something new and help people at the same time,” said Ryan Lam. “This experience has been incredibly valuable for us as we have learned new skills and begun to understand what is involved in bringing a product to market.”
Chan and Lam have now been joined by a peer from Peel District School Board who is exploring injection moulding to assist in bringing the product to market. The PolyMask team has also applied to multiple micro-grants and are actively seeking mentorship opportunities to aid them in their venture.
I hope this correspondence finds you, your family and loved ones healthy and safe. As we shared on Sunday, 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 at least the end of May 2020. 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.
We know students and families have a lot of questions. Please see the Frequently Asked Questions on the Board website for more information.
Please continue to follow us on Twitter @YRDSB and check your email to receive updates from us during this rapidly changing global situation.