Minister Stephen Lecce Remark:
We've got the whole York team present, which is strong. And I think it reflects our sense of gratitude JC for bringing us together. I want to just I'll keep it quick because I know there's a lot of questions. And I know Dr. Kurji you have a lot of perspective to share from his lens from the emerging evidence. I think overall, what I want to say to parents out there and everyone watching and participating is that our commitment is to ensure that we do everything humanly possible to de risk the circumstance that the Chief Medical Officer of this province with great respect to Dr. Kurij but the most senior medical authority, you know, working with Dr. Kurji, has endorsed this plan. I mean, that is a really somber fact. I mean, the fact of the chief medical officer who was the individual who called me in March, to say, you know, respectfully, I think we have to close schools because of the risk of merging, and we did so within about 75 minutes of that request, is the same individual who has given his full confidence at this plan. Introducing a multitude of actions or layers of prevention and differentiating strengths and on trailer just don't exist in other parts of the country, I think only underscore the fact that we are doing something right with an acknowledgement friends that, you know, we're the overwhelming, extraordinary challenge and adversity of putting 2 million kids into a congregate setting and back in the classroom, it is not an easy task for our boards or trustees or educators government, all of us for parents the aches that you have. And I don't that doesn't I don't take that away from me. What I can just simply affirm to you is that our obligation and government is to put every single investment and resource in place to keep them safe. And if I could just quickly speak about them. And then I'll turn it over back to Daisy for Dr. Kurji's thoughts, but just an overview of where we're at. So in Ontario, we are by any measurements leading the nation in virtually every area of expenditure more money than any province is spending in the restart 50% more than one British Columbia is doing as for context, but it goes beyond the money It's also about the layers of prevention. We are the only province in this country that will have that has a comprehensive masking policy. The evidence of the emerging evidence from the medical communities that masking is effective so long as it's done combination with other layer other actions to address the circumstance. So we are we are masquerade for up based on the emerging evidence that that is effective, we're ensuring distance. Today we announced we unlocked an additional half a billion dollars $500 million for school boards to utilize for the purpose of further distancing, quitting more distancing and more spacing to help further de risk the circumstance. I also announced today $50 million investment in ventilation because the emerging evidence that has existed for some time strengthened over the past weeks is that air quality and air control is really important when it comes to improving the environmental space of these children, especially if they're in a classroom for a longer day. I'll be standing on the gold side when the season's permitted. But the fact is air quality is important. Again, Dr. Could you could expand upon these principles from the medical perspective, from what we were told. The advice, I saw it from the command table from Dr. Williams, and from external counsel, including from the Hospital for Sick Children, is that this is critical. So we spend about $1.4 billion a year. But there's more we can do immediate one time investment. To do two things. One is improved the airflow capacity of our school boards, our air quality capacity by improving filters and investing in filters right across our system. So each fact systems are stronger and better. And the second thing is for portables, and for classrooms in older schools, we can provide HVAC filters and what sort of mobile air ventilation systems for those classrooms may be costly, but we put aside the resources to do it to make sure school boards are better support in this respect, just to strengthen the quality of air and idea of flow that exists within schools and I know for some of us, I mean, we European region, some of our schools. Schools are a bit older. Thankfully, a lot of our schools are not that old, our h faxes are strong. But nonetheless, even in the new systems, we want to improve the filters to have Merv 13 filtration, which is the highest standard that is supported by the medical community overwhelmingly, and something that we will be procuring and we'll turn that's important. We also in the context of what we're doing a bit differently as we have 500, public health nurses that we are hiring in real time to support screening to support testing and symptom relief, because you know, your child inevitably may get a flu, you know, as per the flu season, and then they got a cold these things will happen, that these challenges will always manifest and we need to be responsive to it. The added advantage of this year, unlike any year before, in any province in Canada, is we actually have medical assets doctors embedded or rather, nurses embedded within our schools, and doing training for educators as well, that's really important and really vital, I think, to our ability to respond to deploy resources if there's ever a challenge that arises this fall. In the context of a second waiver, but anything really, we're also doing testing, I mean of healthy and important element of our protocol is about ensuring that our testing regime is strong. It's the surveillance is strong, it's dynamic, and it's consistent. And we have the only problems that we'll be doing systematic surveillance testing of asymptomatic students, that's going to be critical.
We put $40 million for cleaning up touch points on buses, because for some of you, you know, obviously buses, so your kids get to school back and forth, and I want to make sure that those touch points are constantly cleaned according to the advice. We've also set aside $75 million for cleaning of our schools to hire 1300 more custodians to put $25 million in more hand sanitation and soap and to be to change the routine of the class so that hand hygiene becomes hand hygiene becomes a critical reality and new reality for September where kids are constantly be doing this with your classes, of course supported by the principle of cohorting, which is keeping the kids together. Other limiting interaction with other kids, which means contact tracing, outbreak management is strengthened, it's better. And it allows us to respond in a more nimble ways so that if you know, symptom arises, we're dealing with a class versus a school or something more broadly, that's really important as well. So we've got cohorting, for elementary, high school, we have in addition to the cleaning and the testing and the nursing, we obviously are doing a healthy elements of training for educators, we're funding but $10 million in professional development and disrespect. We want to really enable them to do the best they can. They're not doctors or non-nurses, but just to know the signs or the protocol and to be comfortable in this facing this challenge. So there's a lot we could talk about. I know there's more to talk about even something we announced that I'm not going to get to right now, which is what remote learning that synchronous live learning will look like but we can get to that later. I just want to assure you that if the evidence changes because it is literally it is emerging. It's not it's, you know, the evidences and in some respects that can even change over Time, we will respond to the risk profile and to the advice of our medical community to one thing Ontario has done to date under our government. Premier Ford is we've just been listening to the medical community every step of the way. It's not a coincidence, folks, that we are literally the light in the darkness when it comes to how incredible Ontario has done in flattening the curve we have here to public health advice, its government, but really, it's you To be fair, not us, that has followed it and done amazing work and sacrifice dramatically to find the curve and by doing so as a consequence of your sacrifice and your responsibility as a citizen. We have trend a transmission level, we're for the past seven or eight odd days there are under 100 in a population of 14 point 7 billion people and protesting 20 to 30,000 a day. I mean, the risk is not abstract. It's all in relation to what the community transmission is. And that is an amazing sign. It should build confidence that we're doing the right thing even as we are in stage three. As we've liberalized the ability of people to do stuff, we're still seeing that Finding of the curve that is a good sign. It also requires us to stay vigilant and requires us to really double down on our efforts because we know what's at risk. Our children, you know, your children, my nieces, but our collective kids, their education could be in peril unless we continue to very deliberately follow public health advice in the context of all the requests on hygiene and masculine distancing, etc. So I am supported, the plane is supported by the Chief Medical Officer it is endorsed, he would not support it if it wasn't safe. I have family in the in the education system and family going to school and teaching as I mentioned, and personal I want to get this right. And I think every week we've systematically been just elevating our investments, doing more and listening to the advice adding more layers of prevention to make this safe for the staff, but then, of course for the kids.
Dr. Karim Kurji Remark:
Thank you very much for having invited me here. And thank you both the member of provincial Parliament easy way, and to minister Lecce for your kind words. So in your region, we have actually seen through the collective efforts of so many individuals, and indeed the public in particular, we have seen a reduction in the incidence of COVID-19. Now, let me explain this for a second. When we talk about the incidents having been reduced, in this case, it's about 300,000 per week, what we really mean is that the risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the community has diminished greatly. So we are in a much better position now than we ever have been. So by corollary that chances of having outbreaks in a school setting or in a church or any other setting, so diminishes at this point in time. You know, we have about one community care setting that is an outbreak mode in one workplace setting. This is an outbreak mode. But we are testing more than 1100 individuals a day and this is done through the partnership with our hospital assessment centers. And the positivity rate is, is very low. Now it's at about point 5%. This is way, way better than what you see south in the United States, and where we were previously, which was around 5%. Now, the issue of returning our students back to school is something that the experts are relatively unanimous on. I mean, whether you look at the Canadian pediatric society, or whether you look at the American Academy of Pediatrics All of them seem to suggest that really we do have to find a way forward for our children to go back to school so that they can continue to benefit with respect to social development with respect to relationship with their peers and mental health issues. We have had long standing partnerships with the school boards in your region. And we have had a lot of experience with respect to contact management, contact tracing and case management say with cases of purchases measles, and of course we have the immunization programs in the grade seven grades. We have also been implementing the immunization of the school pupil set. So we have long standing relationships with the school boards, including the French speaking schools as well as the private schools. And we have a Healthy Schools program where which when the schools closed We were able to redeploy the public health nurses there into the COVID-19. area. And those nurses now extremely experienced both with respect to case management, context tracing, as well as outbreak management. And those are the very nurses who are really going to be supporting the schools. As we go through this transitional phase where we return students back to schools. Generally speaking, the proportion of children who get COVID-19 tends to be around 5%. in your region, it's about 4.7%. And most of the students in your region is the figure is just over 80% haven't really acquired it from close contacts. And these close contacts are usually household contacts. And we do know that children do not seem to be suffering from severe outcomes. They seem to change Get mild disease, usually cough fever and sore throat, and they tend to recover. And the studies elsewhere seem to suggest that they that children under the age of 10 tend not to be transmitting infections as much. And they don't seem to be as many school outbreaks. And one of the things that we had observed was before the schools closed, we had no measures in place, and the curve was going upwards, but we didn't see any school outbreaks then. So with all the measures in place that have been articulated by the Ministry of Education planning, which include a whole host of things, which you're very familiar with, including things like cohorting, masking, screening, and of course, the case management and contact tracing, outbreak management if they happen to be any outbreaks, as well as the general principles of physical distancing. Good Hands, hygiene, you know, should really keep up with children quite safe. And as the minister has pointed out, the Chief Medical Officer of health has provided input to the various tables that exist in the public health system. There's the public health measures table, where we have experts from across the medical sort of spectrum, who have actually been assisting with respect to giving their expertise and advice in console to the Chief Medical Officer of health. And we work as a system as a whole. Wherever we disagree with anything, you know, we make it evident and we communicate this through our ministries, EEOC, and other processes. We have tremendous communications between us in the province. And so we are in agreement with a plan that has been put forward and we will continue to work closely with the school boards to ensure that the implementations of these plants are done in our in the safest possible way. Now that having been saved, it is inevitable that we may actually get perhaps one or two outbreaks, hopefully not more. But that is inevitable. But with experience that we've now had with respect to managing outbreaks, we should be able to get these under control very quickly. So, again, it is a necessary stage with respect to safeguarding our children's mental health and social development and educational development that we need to take the step. And we are at a stage in the community where levels have really gone down drastically. And we hope that those levels will continue to be maintained to the vigilance that the minister has said, we do need to have. So thank you once again, and we'll be happy to take questions at the right time.
What's the plan if any student or teacher is found with COVID, how we will communicate and who will be communicated, how to manage the learning for impact student who will have to stay home to continue the learning.
Thank you all started out and I may turn to Dr. Kurji for some of the medical protocol. When and if a student is has any symptoms within a class the immediate action the training of the educator and of the principal will be to isolate that child from the class. There will be there's already space set aside within the Schools and like extra in salary space like a library, etc that will could be used for individual quarantine, if you will. Well, the administration principal's immediate action is to inform the parent is to call the local health officer. So doctor coach's office, in this case for New York for us, all of us who live in your region. And likewise, to inform the school board immediately of that channel of that symptom. The next action is for the parents to pick up the child removed them from the class, and based on the local health authority, they may be required to be tested, and then isolated. For Children according to the protocol that have that, for example, you know, maybe in a class with other with children that have symptoms, they'll be required to isolate for 24 hours and if there's no symptoms for them, they'd be permitted back into the school. And likewise, in the context of the general protocol as it's being developed, it's being really developed through the lens of management's minimize the impact on schools, which is why we speak about cohorting, which is fairly foundational to our success to limits the ability of a cloud. When I say quarter century, a group of kids, you know, 20 Kids 25. Remember that number is in high schools in our in our community be no more than 15. You could use that as an example, that 15 group where we understand basically emerging evidence so far, what we understand is there's a higher rate of transmission amongst older students. And again, this this evidence can change over towards to date is that amongst older students, there's a higher rate of transmission that therefore the decision by the government wants to say, look in those higher risk communities, we're going to, we're going to enforce a maximum in those classes. And more importantly, we're going to make an adaptive when students are not in school, especially in the adaptive model. They're expected to be provided with all my learning, and the context of a remote learning experience led by their teacher and I my Express In the context of that experience for students who opt for to have remote learning is that it is live. It is synchronous, meaning it's live. It's a zoom style educational experience, like we're doing today, with the teacher and in front of you, and we'll talk more about that a bit later. But the point is that the child is forced to is asked to isolate at home for a day, or for a prolonged period of time, the teacher in the class would be required to work with the child to make sure that they continue to get updates information and really access to the curriculum so that they're not left behind, or they're not further behind in the curriculum when they return, hopefully, 24 hours later, but potentially as many as 14 days later.
Minister Lecce, I mean, you did an excellent job of articulating many of the steps so the only additional area Every day, it would be that our public health nurses are very skilled with respect to contact tracing. And so if it were a child who is Mr. Lecce aide would then have been isolated and gone home. Then the next thing would be our public health nurses would be connecting with the school and trying to find out who else might have actually been in close contact with this child, we would first be essentially looking at the status of the child because the child we would encourage calls for testing if we felt that a child had COVID-19 like symptoms, and should the child be positive, I mean, that's the time when we would normally be taking more of an aggressive role with respect to identifying all the context and getting the close context you know, to go into self-isolation, impossible as testing as well. Let me explain what we mean by close contact. So if you happen to be a high school student, and you have been physically distancing properly and you've been wearing masks, and assuming that that sick child was in that sort of category, it is highly unlikely that the child would actually have any close contacts. So with a little bit of care, we may actually be able to avoid the self-isolation of more than just the individual case. And the others may have to monitor themselves for symptoms and signs, you know, for 14 days but could actually continue in the class. And this is the beauty of following the physical distancing rules and with respect to the younger children, when it comes to the physical distancing site and I understand with Minister Lecce announcement this afternoon, there will be greater latitude given to the ports. To try and promote on physical distancing. However, the recommendations of the Hospital for Sick kid document was that about a meter of distance be placed between children. And many of the studies seem to suggest that 85% of infections can actually be prevented with a one meter distance and the remainder 85% when you're increased the second meter, so, there is actually every likelihood that the infections may not necessarily spread particularly given all the other measures in place good hand hygiene in masking and other measures in place. So, should the situation escalate and you know, you start getting more cases, then we will we would have to handle this like we normally do with any other setting and we plot the epidemic curves. We visit the Setting with respect to giving more Infection Prevention and Control advice if we make some observations as to what else could be improved, and they may have to be additional measures that may have to be taken. But I would be very surprised if those measures resulted in a whole school being closed at any given time. Thank you.
In regard online learning. Just see from the opening registration email, that student will be able to engage in online learning, including real time live session. I wonder how much percentage of the online learning will be a real time live session. We had the real time live session before the big but it was only 30 minutes per week.
Answer 2: (Minister Lecce)
Absolutely. But what I can say to you is that the lesson in the voice of parents on the issue of live synchronous learning has been clear. No, no, we say synchronous, essentially, I mean, a live zoom style experience. Just and if I don't say that, again, know that I mean this type of learning where you've got your class, you've got your kids in front of you, the teacher, and maybe the additional the A or additional staff in the school, in the classroom and they're together. And they're providing a sense of community. And they're able to challenge each other and laugh together and sort of, you know, answer questions together and have group chats together. I mean, look, it is perhaps not the same. And I would submit it's not the same as in class, but it is better than nothing, which is what we largely had to contend with in the spring, which was unacceptable as a as a an uncle, with the kids in the system and more so simply as a taxpayer, we just have to aspire for a bit more. And I heard parents we all heard parents Daisy, Gila, Michael Tibollo, Michael Parsa, Logan, I mean, every member of one of us. I've called Caroline Mulroney, we just all heard the concern. It was standardized, it was consistent, and that it was you know, there's always a story of my one daughter has an N Every day is doing live learning and my son got an email. And that doesn't seem right or fair. And I agree. So we have absolutely scaled up this the first principle is Ontario's The only province in Canada to offer parents a choice. You know, many provinces just don't have the capacity or maybe didn't have the foresight to look for an online learning remote option. So it's you go to school or you get home schooled effectively, or giving you that option of a live lead educational experience. With respect to the question on percentages. Today, I announced that the problem is what I wasn't able to say at the beginning, but I'm happy we're getting here because for those parents that choose remote learning, and you know, perhaps will be a minority and not all but it's your choice and we respect that full stop. The expectation of direction the minimum standard is that each day, there's a 300 minute day in schools every day of instruction on official education of those 300 minutes from grade one to 12 must be a minimum of 75% must be live synchronous learning. Full stop minimum Now we've left a bit of a buffer to be fair because, you know, one on one requirements, small group. So you want to allow the educator to maybe there's a one on one with a child needs a bit more time, that's normally the discretion you would do in class anyway. But the minimum is 75%. That's a clear expectation. It's not something that you can interpret differently. It is what is required by the Ministry of Education. And it is what we will enforce with school boards. There's no exceptions built in. That's what we want for kindergarten, we're talking about, you know, a four year old, sometimes very young children. They're required a minimum of 50%. And that's just largely based on the assumption it's really tough to keep a child sitting in a seat who's four years old, you know, for five or six hours for many hours a day that's perhaps impractical. But again, it's the minimum standard. If it can be done more, the parents wanted, the kids are behaviorally able to adjust all the power to the educator and of course, to those parents to raise that standard. But that's what we will expect now. We also will give the right of the ability of the For the first time in Ontario, we're announcing about $18 million in investment to hire principals, you may say, why do we need more principals. In short, I want to ensure parents have a point of contact if you have concerns with that experience, but you actually have an accountability measure to go to the principal, if we didn't hire these principals, you'd have the principal responsible for a school of four or 500 kids in class, and then a school of maybe 300 online. And then you really you liquidate the ability, or you undermine the ability of that principal to really add value to provide that accountability. I think that's important. And I mean that constructively I mean, you know, most of these are teams, they work well together, they support each other when it comes to the staff in schools. But you know, you do need a manager in space in place to ensure an element of accountability. That's the basis of that hire the recruiting principals from virtual schools, and that will really strengthen the ability of learning we're also ensuring this September every high school will have internet in it high speed internet and for those students that Remote learning or may want to choose remote learning but because of you know economics you may not have a laptop or internet we provided school boards with significant increase in funds to buy more iPads, more laptops, including with internet and some I mean I negotiated with Rogers and Bell through the CEOs some months ago a very low cost high impact solution to that gap that exists and look there are families that that may not happen and that's okay you will not be given the truth as a second class person you deserve the rights to consider this at this the right solution remote learning for your family based on whatever circumstance it may be beat they may be predicated on. So those resources are in place as well. And I hope that gives confidence that the day will be better final thought I'm so sorry, Michael. Is the parents have asked me Look where they said to me in the summer we were consulting and I spoke to Daisy about this. We did zooms actually many times at home that feedback was like I like the remote learning option. But if I want to put my child back in school in the rich school Can I do that? It wasn't part of the original plan. But then parents sort of said, Look, that would be an amazing advantage. Maybe we start remote, and then we go back in later on, I wouldn't have that choice. We're giving you that choice. In fact, we're directing school boards respectfully, when I say directing, officially or collaborating with them, they've been working very hard and they're doing an impossible task. But you know, we're giving them requiring school boards that the least one re-entry time for your child. So you start your kid your children off in September, let's say remote learning online, they're part of the live learning synchronous are great, at least one point between now and the end of the semester. So essentially, between now and Christmas, you'll have the choice to re-enter your child should you want to, or you keep them in remote learning for the remainder of the year. That's the flexibility the value added we have in Ontario that I'm proud of. I recognize those imperfections and that we need to keep building upon it and scaling it up. But that is a really unique reality for Ontario when there's a lot of parents I think in the country who have said we want Ontario is planted because they like the choices we're providing Parents and I recognize folks, putting 2 million kids in a congregate care setting comes with massive challenges and it's not going to be easy. But I think what the can do spirit and with, with optionality for parents and with adhering to the public health advice, we can do this.
How does a staggered recess look like? We'll get will there be any concrete physical barriers to limit physical contact with children not belonging to the same cohort?
School boards are given instruction and guidance on separating those cohorts in class. I mean, thankfully, many of our schools particularly York Region, to be fair, you know, they're usually on large parcels of land, we actually have requirements on how big the acreage has to be. So we will be staggering recesses we're going to be staggering school bus times will be staggering start times and end times. I mean, fundamentally, friends, everything is changing in September. I mean, the fundamentals are there. Your child's in front of the class. They're learning the general curriculum. They're in Britain. Motor school but everything will sort of in small or sometimes large ways they will change. So to the question In short, the answer is yes, everything will be adjusted school board to take the initiative right now, to make those edits of those augmentations. With the, again, going back to the first principle limiting contact with other cohorts. So, you know, buses will leave a bit earlier in the may arrive into later like, and I get it, it's, it's, it's annoying, it's quite frank, it's, it's, it's annoying, but it's necessary. I mean, we're just trying to literally mitigate the idea of one court interacting with another court because to Dr. Kurji's point about moderate management, if they are separated, we maintain the integrity of that separation. We won't have to close a school we could be very nimble and narrow casting just that school, that classroom or maybe even that just have one child, of course, based on the public health, recommendation and environmental reality on the ground. So in short, they are cafeterias. You know, we're not you know, we're not children are on cafeterias that can be you know, in the classroom, the To eat together play together, but from a developmental perspective, and Dr. Kurji may have an opinion on the mental health elements of this, I just want to get this out there. A lot of kids have anxiety right now. And I'm and I will turn defer to Dr. Kurji's the medical authority, my observation from what I'm hearing from a variety of perspectives, including sick kids. Kids are anxious, the parents are anxious and we're all anxious. But the kids have maybe a heightened level of social isolation. And from a developmental perspective, it is really important they get back to school, but it's also important they have access to mental health resources if they need it. And I think really working to D stigmatize it, but also to talk to children to talk, you know, as no parents will be doing, about the importance of, you know, expressing themselves if they feel a bit unsure or anxious or concerned that we're stepping up the mental health supports in schools, we added another $25 million to hire more psychologists and psycho therapists and social workers because we just understand as a basic principle that you know, they need to not be Waiting in line to get access to these mental health supports in the local health authority with Dr. Kurji. His team, they work very hard providing a provision of health care locally with our local hospitals. We benefit in New York to have the first next new hospital being built in Vaughan and the Mackenzie bond hospital, which will be very, very positive to improve access to health care. And I'm proud that we're getting that done. But the bottom line is, mental health is important. It's foundational, and we're making sure those resources are in place. Dr. Kurji, anything you'd like to add in that point? Maybe especially for the context of accessing those resources in New York? Sure.
In fact, you have stressed exactly what the authorities you know, many of the August bodies have been stressing and what they have actually been observing. The scopes are so very important for a child's well-being. There are also areas that we may not have necessarily recognized that occurs in schools in our teachers tend to recognize problems when they when they develop it. To an early enough stage and provide the appropriate referrals for folks that may have been having certain cognitive challenges or other challenges with respect to learning. So there is a, there is a whole spectrum of activities that are beneficial to students when they are in a school environment. And your point is very well taken about following public health principles, the principles of cohorting, the principles of physical distancing, good hand hygiene. And if we were to follow these principles and given with the declining incidence of COVID-19 in our communities, remember that when an individual goes today for testing, even though they may actually be symptomatic for COVID-19 only point 5% seem to come back as positive. And that is very good news. So the chances are when a child develops some sort of symptoms of COVID-19 the chances are that they will probably Not at COVID-19 if the current incidence figures continue, but you know, we still want to take all sorts of precautions and want to ensure that we don't slip up anywhere. Because we know that COVID-19 has a way of getting back and biting us, as you're seeing now with the Western provinces. And you're seeing in many of the states in the US, thank you.
What will be the roles of nurses who describe their work?
So I've been working very closely with minister Christine Elliott, the deputy Premier, the Minister of Health, also member from Newmarket, Aurora for any constituents on Today on our York Region colleague and Deputy Premier, and I have been breaking down silos like government hasn't seen because we've been able to really embed public health with education and we have one table One dialogue and sort of one vision, which is just maximize safety and utilize the strength of our public health authorities and put them into our schools. Now, Dr. Kurji rightfully pointed out, there are already our public health nurses that are trained in infection prevention, that do this every day, we're just building it up in a pretty significant way. And we're going to be utilizing those capacities, sort of SWAT teams, if you want to send them in where there is needs. The principal, the work related to the mandate of those prints of those nurses will be to support screening, testing, and symptom relief. I mean, if there's a you know, in addition to training, by the way, I mean, having that level of support on site will only help the principal how to do this impossible task of figuring out is this is that the sniffles or is that COVID and rendering the flu season so I mean, that's going to be really important. That's why unique It's a unique advantage from trio but I would argue it's stuck. It's just fundamental to getting this right. adhering to the experts, which would be that we know or a nurse or obviously a doctor or someone from the Health Authority. That's the broad vision for what they will do where there is competence will be.
Let In fact, you've covered many of the really salient points there. In addition to that, our nurses already collaborating and they had actually already been collaborating with the school boards, because many of them have any questions, they have questions about running the whatever it is that they wish to implement, you know, with public health. And so, they have been guiding them through the implementation side, you know, bearing in mind the principles that public health has been advocating, then, of course, you know, should we actually have a case that will require some expert contact tracing and subsequent management of the context and again, our nurses, just like they have been In the long term care homes and they have done in many workplace settings, have all experienced now. And our public health inspectors would also be going into those places, should it be necessary to provide more of the infection prevention and control observations in training. And we are also hiring other public health nurses with skills in infection prevention and control. So should there actually be any outbreak in particular, you know, we will be able to work very closely with the schools and, and the parents and you know, help manage that. We are committed to transparency, and as we have been in the past with respect to long term care homes or workplaces, and again, we're just exploring ways whereby we can be relatively transparent, so that you know, parents are aware of any situations that may actually be existing in any given school. setting to the extent that it is possible for them to get a little reassured and be informed on the progress. Now having stated that, you know, I am not expecting too many outbreaks if all the measures have been taken. And we are trying to make it as safe as possible for the children to return back to school. And please don't forget that many of our staff have children themselves. So they have skin in the game as well.
What are the signs parents should look for? You know, we're entering the flu season influences around the corner. A few Thursday's ago, two weeks ago I called the Minister of Education New South Wales, Australia, which you may Find a curious use of my time, but it was actually super helpful. She told me she's the minister in Australia, who is now being hit by influenza because you know, their winters now, we have the opposite seasons really important to learn lessons from foreign jurisdictions. And her big emphasis to me, among many others, like the merits of masking was the importance of vaccination. Now, I don't mean in the context of, you know, potentially a vaccine for COVID, I mean, just for basic vaccines required for influenza. Could you elaborate on that as a as a proactive step every parent should take? Should they be comfortable, obviously, that for vaccines, but for the majority of parents that will do that, why that's important and what the signs are and how you can differentiate between a cold and I'm not sure it's as easy as saying it in 20 seconds, but the nuance between the cold and the flu is versus COVID. And if there's any tips you can give parents given that they're really on the front lines of screening for the kids.
Those questions are very important so unfortunately it's going to be very difficult to distinguish between the influenza, a call and COVID-19. We have symptoms of COVID-19, which we've listed on our website, York.ca/COVID19, and there is a particular section there, which goes into a lot of details with respect to 19, children, but amongst the symptoms would be fever of 37.8 degrees or greater, and new, or worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or difficulty swallowing altered taste, taste, sensation, or smell, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, abdominal pain or runny nose or nasal congestion. So you can see that all of these symptoms you know could very well be mimicked, either way by influenza or by a common cold and the distinction is going to be difficult. So this is why it is so important. If you know everybody gets in the United States, unless they have some medical contract contradiction, or contraindications. The other reason why we want to ensure that folks getting the United States as you always say is that we need to keep our hospitals and healthcare facilities available in case we need to be patient with COVID-19 in the event of a second wave occurring. Now, there is universal immunization for influenza in our communities and the more people who get vaccinated, less difficult it will be for us to distinguish between COVID-19 and influenza because if you're happy vaccinated against influenza this can be less likelihood of having cancer. So those are important points and remember I'm a public health nurses will be there to assist and hold all the hands of anyone who needs assistance in that respect. And then there are in fact the assessment centers where there are physicians who make the assessment as to whether an individual is COVID-19, or whether they have something else, and the testing is probably the best way for us to find out, and the test results come back fairly quickly these days, usually within two days at most.
We will tackle the issue of school bus running at full capacity. So how can students do social distancing on school bus.
Answer 5: (Minister Lecce)
Well, first off, schools, students will be required to wear masks on school bus and will be mandatory. And that is important. The second is that school bus, the number of children on a school bus will be reduced the direction we followed. According to the federal government's guidelines on transportation and we've consulted Metrolinx, which is an agency of government about their best practices according to the science is that we will have one child, per seat, unless they are siblings so if there are no children living in the same home there could be two kids together on one seat if you will normally don't know could be more. Whereas if they're not, there are different masks and they're required to be alone on that seat, yes that will mean more buses were drivers and no more logistical challenges but the reality is we have taken action to reduce the quantity of children on the bus we've made it masking we've added $40 million in next new investments for cleaning of all high contact points, not just you know the handles but even the leather on the seats, everything constantly for two rounds. We're providing a full PP expensive not just a mask but really anything that the driver may request often these are older drivers so we're concerned about their health as well as regular full suite of access to pee pee provided by the government by the school boards funded by department and Recycling's class times, as noted we're changing the you know the context of when start, and late at schools ends and that'll allow you know different logistics and planning, but it'll mean less, sort of, you know, kind of convening on the front of class when the bell goes off as Elisa went off in 2019, wherever it was her Russia, and try to get to the boss or maybe to the parents. We also heard, just the early survey results that there will be less parents using busing I mean sometimes we'll be, we'll have to use busing specifically for some of our constituents in more rural parts of the region. And as I say the cleaning is of as increased the tip is provided and masks are required for the students, and likewise for the staff, a bus driver and actions are taken on staging of classes. So that's really how we're dealing with it. In the towel we're increasing the layer protection when it comes to policy but as I say, the pressure may be reduced based on past years that's a choice of parents school boards out in New York, they have public and Catholic have survey to understand what those needs are and to make sure that there's a sufficient capacity to get these students home in school.
ESL class, we'll be able to tell me that in our ESL classes in the classroom in the fall.
Answer 6 (Minister Lecce)
adult education. In short, the aim of school boards is to provide as many of these, you know, of all forms of learning as possible ESL is important and of course we value the. The work that school boards do for adult education, I mean I say this with a great level of humility, my parents were both immigrants country. And I understand the importance of language development. And so when I can to simply assert to you is that school boards will make the decision, you know in my capacity as the Minister of Education for 2 million kids, a bit more macro and micro I know a lot of people want to know. But look, the instinct is to try to provide as many of these services and educational opportunities as possible. And if they can to work with community partners, just to make sure that there's someone that can help provide it. I mean look the core focus for this year is making sure your children are in class learning the curriculum and safe. Full stop. It may require us as we are, you know, having to address some of the extracurricular or maybe not doing the trips that are on this year or things like that. Maybe not. Maybe you'll be permitted. It's an exceptional year. And so, things aren't changing but I think what we're trying to do as well as try to create a sense of normalcy for the kids, and give them a bit of optimism that go and go back to see their friends or so be able to play and learn and be inquisitive and being a safe space with nutritional programs and mental health supports and access technology for those that have, you know come from lower economic means and so what I can say to folks out there is that when it comes to broader message inside in every area, we have ensure that we're taking action, not just to improve the experience but to de risk the circumstance and the environment for the child and for the staff, and we're going to continue to do that and expect to hear more as we scale up our plan right into September and beyond, because the challenges are changing the research is evolving. The risk is not linear, even in your region from bottom to East Dwillimbury it's not the same, you know, right I'm surmising based on data I used to say I saw a couple weeks ago Dr. Kurji, but my point is, you know, it's not it's not the wrist football soccer scene in this region, let alone in this massive province, and so that notion of latitude is going to be a strength and it's respected.
MPP Daisy Wai Remark
Thank you. First of all, I just want to say thank you to our ministry minister okay for, follow me for being with us tonight but for all the hard work and listening to our parents, and of course, thank you to our doctor, Dr. Kurji, we rely on your suggestion and your employees who look up to you and if there is any concerns we'll come back and ask you, I have to. I have to appreciate, in particular, to local trustees, especially to the ones that are here with us tonight. We have Trustee Allan Tam and Trustee Ron Lynn. And not only are you here with us tonight. Because I know that you have a lot of work ahead of you working with the teachers working with the principals working with the ministry, to make sure we just mentioned is all covered. And I would like to address to the teachers and to the parents who are here today. I asked what I mentioned earlier, I know that even if we have a few days we will not be able to address each one of you with all your questions. I am thankful and I know that we have to big topic tonight because we have 1000 people joining us tonight, to the extended like I have even extend expand my, the number of attendees and 1000 is all I can put in. So I apologize and I cannot let each one of you speaking up, but we are listening, we are listening to what you have written to us. It will be distributed to each MPP in your own writing, they will contact you and then show it to me, even though, not the specific questions are being asked. But in their answers I thank you who administer and talk to you for you, very thorough answers. Sure you answer cover a lot of aspects and they would have already got the questions industry. So, we will still continue to be working with all of you. And the thing I remember, Minister saying that, yes, we are all in high society. I'm anxious as well as grandchildren, and I'm concerned how they will be reacting and I told myself, and society is not we do this will really help me know the people that I care for the best thing is just to relax, and do our bash. And as with the doctor reminders, watching on his social distance is insane wearing masks. those standard things are what we have to do. And let's just put our heads together and face this challenge together with, not with anxiety, but with peace, and knowing that we are here to count on each other's support. Thank you all for joining us tonight. Okay, thank you. Good evening to you all.
MPP Billy Pang Remark:
Thank you to all parents for processing Appearing in today's session roundtable. We are also joined by our local school board trustees, Allan Tam, Ron Lynn, and James Ecker. Today, I'm joined with the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. He will join us shortly to hear directly from parents of my community on any questions you may be having regarding the safe reopening of schools. During this uncertain time. I want to thank parents, teachers, staff for supporting and continuing the education for our students in these past months. On July 30, our government released a safety plan for the reopening of school in September. Since then, some parents of Markham has reached out to my office to voice their questions and thoughts. I look forward to hear from you and more parents in today's Roundtable. But don't It's clear, and we'll leave unchanged. The health and safety of your children will remain our government's priority. And with this, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Minister Stephen Lecce Remark:
Thank you very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you. Thank you so much, really the opportunity with families right across your community and also your region member taxpayers. hair and family work and children will be re-entering the Catholic school so very much committed to working with durability as a former trustee as a parent and of course as a member to ensure kids can return to class safely. With respect to the overall plan, I think it is important to benchmark our plan against other provinces to be quite right in this country to understand to understand our strengths and the areas for growth. What is the premier indicated today when he was asked? You know, a similar question is that our government's commitment is to keep building our safe planners endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer of health. And quite frankly, is underscored by science and evidence when it comes to be the only province in Canada that has mask. I mean, you know, respectfully, it's hard not to decouple what Ontario is doing when virtually every province is falling or trying to catch up, doesn't mean we can do more and tomorrow I intend to present this week rather later this week, to an further steps they got to take to further strengthen the efficacy of our plan to make it more safe for kids to go back with total confidence. Because we really do believe it is an imperative for our economy, our kids, and really just from an educational perspective, they gotta get back on track to get back to work. And so we are masking, we are providing resources for distancing, public health has not endorsed a quantum you suggest to the question. I've not heard any other unions respectfully call for that number. I've not heard public health suggests a number for the distance, more dispensing and better ventilation, and improved cleaning protocols. And so what we're doing is we're putting about $75 million. Next move, including, because we recognize, you know, it's going to be pretty foundational to keep these surfaces touch points, constantly clean. So we're adding 1300 custodians reading 20 by million dollars in additional cleaning products and sanitation with providing massive challenge or require all staff will also have PPE. In addition, we're hiring nurses are the only province in Canada to have a nursing plan that public health nurses and veterinary schools to support testing to support screening and symptom relief of any chocolate, any symptoms, colored influence, etc. We are also a part of our client in the context of all entries, making sure that there are more resources in place. So today is I think, a bit of a primer for me just to reaffirm to you that every step of the way of going through this identical first cross most schools, we will reopen schools but we're going to do so with one resource in place when stepping it up week after week. Listen to the advice I think demonstrating and hopefully to parents that we will not spare an expense we've just put 300 and $9 million new next new. That's important and we're going to do more than I think we can I don't really die and really for all of us, we simply want to affirm to parents that the investments we're making it staffing, in resources in cleaning and testing, the only province to have asymptomatic testing of high school students. And everything else, I think will really ensure safe, we started with the recognition. There are going to be stepping it up now in the coming days, but really continuously through the coming year based on that challenge.
Minister, can you give us more information on the adaptive model? And how will this model work and look like for secondary students?
The principal the adaptive is in a community where the community transition Risk is higher your region Toronto Durham appeal. The idea is the emerging evidence is clear that what we know is older students, there's a high rate of transmission and younger students as a consequence and to de risk the circumstance we directed those boards in those higher risk, higher tracking retransmission rates to go on the adaptive model, which in some communities will be half a day some it'll be every other day or every other week. It really depends on the school boards have developed those plans in conjunction with a local health board so to speak for them because there's four boards normal, many of them will many kids will be in the public and Catholic systems primarily, but that's the principle behind it. When a child is in class, they're led by their teacher. When a child is at home when they're not in class. The rest of it will be done remotely. Now with perspective we'll learn we'll be putting a very clear expectations when it comes to the online experience of higher status. Yours more time with synchronous live learning. I've heard from you, I did this roundtable with many of you that I remember some of your faces the last time we did this, I guess Philly was about a month ago or so. And the feedback we heard from you was clear, you know, while you appreciate it, your child had access to online learning during the closure, you want it to be better. And by the way, I totally agree. I mean, what we need to be quite frayed is we need to have alignment. We have support from our local unions to enable to do better when it comes to synchronous learning as opposed to spring. So now we're creating more clear expectations standing up for parents and those children when they're not in school for half a day or half or every other week or their date. They deserve to have a chess teacher in front of them with all their kids, just like we're doing now in the Zune style, improve the learning improve the experience, and while I'm the first to acknowledge it's not going to replace the in class experience, at least it gives them something defensible access to their teacher quality education and their kids in A community that they can be supportive. That also applies. I know you did ask the city but it also applies those expectation for those parents, some of you who will choose or have chosen to have your child go with the hundred percent online loan option, as you know, in turn is one of the only problems I think we are only aware of. Okay, there's one other Perhaps that is offering choice. Most provinces you send your child in class or homeschool, we believe we have to give more options for parents, you're the first educator you know, you obviously know what's best for your child. So the online option is strengthened for those that choose 100% of mine in class will be saved. And of course, for those communities in high risk, like in your region where we all live, that will be adapted for high school smoke. So I don't want to put any of the trusses as part of that should they feel inclined to maybe explain more of like visiting them. And that gives you a flavor of the reason why we're doing it and the public health rationale for why that method was, I think important to reduce the risk and keep in mind Colleagues, as if we flatten this curve, we continue to do the basic work. Now, each day's consecutive under 100 cases, we tested 27,000 people, as I recall correctly. Fortunately, people and there's no 90 odd people who get a positive test now that's still too high. But to be quite frank, that is an amazing ability to move that trajectory down, flatten that curve. That's a testament to all of us. If that continues, and the community risk is lower, that our instinct is to go from the adaptive model, I, you know, the blended model the every other day, every week model to the conventional. Right now we're staying we're keeping it safe, we're starting to do lifting the Public Health Service, cautious restart. And if an October November, it gets better than we can scale up and just let them call it until there's a second wave and it gets worse. We can scale them. We have that ability on the trail because we've asked our school board and they've been doing a good job in preparing for those three different scenarios that could arise The following deal.
Many parents are wondering what options are there if the either the parent or the child does not feel ready to physically go back to school year in September? And can you tell us more about what online learning will look like? And how will it be ensured that it will be better than it was in March to June?
Yeah, you absolutely deserve it to be better. And what we really appreciate is that parents have strongly advocated with the government, really respectfully calling on you know, or our unions to be part of that solution and to truly support the delivery of education is extraordinary. I know this is normal. I know it is unprecedented. I know we're all having to adapt, but we all must adapt. Some of us, all of us. And I think synchronous learning live learning is important. You know, and I think what I can assure you, is when I come out with further details very shortly, very, very short, sweet, on what it will look like it'll be an improved experience. The first point, I guess, Kitty is that you have a choice and school boards are permitting you, you know. So in the coming days decision will have to be made for different school boards in Ontario, or you're permitted at choice, you can go online 100% and go in class. Well, we're also asking school boards to do is to offer parents or we entrance period, meaning if you started online in September, to allow you the parent to choose to have your child's going back into school at a later date. No matter whatever that date is. It really depends on the board and the local health. We are the banker, December, January, etc. The point is you will have the right should you think things go well, reasonably safe and your child is ready for that you're ready for that you have the right and the ability to re-enter your child into class online, into the in class experience. That's a really amazing value. Drop trailer. And then finally it just comes to the experience it'll be significantly increased a bicycle will be more teachable learning, you will have access to a schedule like a like an actual normal itinerary of a child scheduled a child with a full day is booked with either in cloud either online learning with their teacher through live experience, or asynchronous meaning to watching a specific video produced and then discussion after the point is that they will actually schedule a calendar creates dependent consistency. It also allows the parent to know what is my job during tomorrow, wherever your theme focuses. And it empowers you to step a bit more information. So the system will be better. Obviously, we're only took 2 million kids online. And now we're trying to build up something that has been largely opposed and not supported in Ontario via a variety of factors, as I mentioned already, but I'm hoping that because we're wrapping this up calling more of this type of work And because of the work of government, I believe in so many others who could really say we got to do better, and we're with you 100%. I will not defend what transpired in the spring we expect better sub problems or an industrial economy or our powerful democracy by wealthy appeal and ingenuity. We've got all the abilities to deliver a better experience. I announced more money for more computers so that those low income kids are not you know, you know, fall through the cracks, we give them the ability to drama. We then created a partnership with Apple with Rogers I call the leadership of both companies and got a very discounted price point that school boards utilize our 10s of thousands of devices of iPads with internet and distributed I provided another $15 million for another 37,000 devices here. And so as I say, internet will be in every high school devices are being developed. It provides those fancy Really trying to work around those issues, and just trying to make it more accessible, more defensible and more positive and experience for the child and really, but also for you as parents and make sure you're learning the curriculum and getting that one on one support in the classroom support.
If face to face learning was first chosen, could parents and students have the option to re-enter online learning after October?
Yes, in short, the answers they will we really do believe it's important for parents out that choice, each school board so we're talking about your decision on the Catholic and the French boards, but you know, the boards will put out that that term that date, you know, so what they'll what they are going to say is, you know you're allowed to re-enter your child, however, you've got to give us notice and they'll be some sort of notice period required because look, folks, imagine a school board with hundreds of thousands For 10s of thousands of staff, I tried to allow that mobility in and out is an amazing thing. But it requires time and awareness to the staff, or online teachers and from person to I don't want to speak to the board, but I do understand the challenges they have. So I notice will be important. But in short, yes, you're gonna be given that opportunity to answer your child in class. At a point, we're asking the ministry for as many points as functionally are operation possible. That's got to be you know, funerals for sure. And it's certainly well, at least to know, one, at least one entrance point in the years that you have the choice based on your experience and evidence. If you want to put your child back into school in at a later point, likely looking probably closer to the Christmas period. But again, that'll be a decision point. That'll be communicated by the school board. if they haven't already communicated, I know that they will be very racial.
Minister, can you tell us more about the plan on keeping students and staff safe through physical distancing in the classroom?
Well, on buses, we have changed the protocol for buses as well. The guidance provided that we've given to school boards is a what the number of children in the bus will be reduced significantly. As you know, the whole benefit of having children in one class is that the kids are cohorted. And they stay together, they play together, they learn together, that is an advantage. It's actually very important for contact traction your interactions just put the kids to the kids but they do so in a group and buses. As you know, you've got multiple kids coming from different classes, sometimes even schools, different boards, so quite some challenges for our school board. So what we've done is we've provided $40 million for additional cleaning of school buses, which the school bus Association welcomed as a significant investment to keep them clean constantly. Throughout routes. What we've also done is we've changed the amount we've provided assigned seating so there's consistency where the child is. And that's important as well from the contact tracing of minimizes the amount of mobility of children every morning every night talking to or rather be close to other children. And the number of children on the seat has changed only siblings. family in the same home could sit on the same seat. That'll be one child per seat. It does change. It does change the delivery does change the impact on school boards, but at the end of the day, we provided guidance on how to change. We also understand from school boards that there are you know that more parents will be bringing their children to class based on those early survey results, irrespective the obligation is to make sure to say To make sure that there is a one child with a seat and masking would be required additional PPE would be provided for the bus driver and cleaning as I noted 40 million next new money. This one This one year one time investment this year will to keep them constantly clean will also help in maintaining safe.
To begin, will there be any screening or testing for teachers and students at the beginning of the school year or at regular intervals.
So the screening will take place every person staff teacher students is screened to be screened before they enter the schools. This rigorous screening process will provide that information who the parents power of them to be honest and transparent any symptoms at all. The child should up into the classroom that applies, you know, for kids, because you know, we parents have to make these decisions every year, you always are making that judgment call if it's the sniffles, or if it's the flu, the flu season happening. You know, in the fall, that's common, and there's always those children. So we're really looking to parents, that transparency, they know that they will be, as we know that the quality of the impact is safety. So the screening applies for everyone. Ontario is the only province that will be doing aggressive any form of aggressive testing asymptomatic students. So you know, symptoms are not you know, you're going to be getting surveillance testing, which means the war will be the only province to have significant numbers of children focusing on high school just given that transmission risk, but public health anywhere they like based on locality what's happening. I'm really focusing on asymptomatic surveillance has to constantly be surveyed, where students are And ultimately, if they are staying safe and that testing component is critical to operate management, it's critical to our effectiveness of flattening the curve. It's also critical and understanding where the risks are. And where do we deploy those public health nurses that Ontario's position to have as we hire upwards of 500 public health nurses that will be trained in infection prevention, which will be a really amazing advantage for Ontario, Doctor, administrators, teachers, likewise, for principals to have a medical person on staff, there's no problems, or to be quite frank, no proposal I've seen that includes that, but I'm trying to lead the way in this respect. We want to add a medical lens to this position. So the priority and the perspective will be we'll let you listen to the advice of doctors and nurses to help with those issues. So testing, absolutely, we are in a strong position to be in constant testing the testing swaps anyone's had You know, Colby tests a little uncomfortable that you may suggest more uncomfortable to add to the test. The ones we are procuring for our kids is a soft swap. They don't really go all the way up, they just literally touch the inside of your nasal cavity. They're not invasive, painful, if anything, maybe they make you look a ticklish but they're not painful. It's that type of consideration. Like we're literally thinking through the lens of how to make this regularized how to make it constant but also how to make it not invasive annoying for the child. And we're looking at that level, that level of detail to make sure we get this right. And I just want to be clear, the broader picture. Testing and screening of course, public health nurses will support that the symptoms there's a outbreak management plan of a child's symptoms feeling isolated, or immediately. The school board the local public health officer for the parents have some form, of course to pursue proven and we have sufficient supply of tests and public health assets to deploy if we need to. And that's another screen in our plan that we can move literally nurses, or doctors acquired into schools where there could be level, higher areas of risk. To 30 years ago, I spoke to the Minister of Education in New South Wales, Australia. You may think live when I call that person, but not the same Commonwealth country. They in Australia have the opposite season. So they're in winter, and they've been hit by the flu season. And I called really to understand the best practices and the lessons learned and what are you facing, right? What's your what's your recommendation among a variety of solutions, including masking which ones will be the only problems to mask? It's great. But what she also said to me was, in the context of preventing the spread is the importance of vaccination. I'm not talking about vaccine for covid. I mean, for all the other influenza for all the other vaccines and parents make at their children, they get to really make sure that those are up to date. And those are before the kids going to school. That's critical. And just it's important I share that with you because her lesson to me was, you know, vaccination is critical because many of the symptoms ended up happening in the schools. They looked like COVID, the child that holds the child, the kid got a fever, which happens we all know what happens. All that happens to your children happens tonight. my nieces, this is a normal thing. But how do you differentiate what's the advantage of having that nurse on site? The advantage of having the training of every educator and the principles which were providing professional public health, health and safety training or spending $10 million inspect, that includes even the occasional teachers, by teachers as well, everyone will have that training and have that knowledge.
Minister, can you tell us more about the protocol for outbreaks? And how will parents receive timely communication regarding outbreaks?
Yeah, absolutely. Communications is vital in constant contact with the classroom, family something that is an expectation for selling school boards and that is being in immediate contact with the parent. If that as I mentioned earlier, there's an outbreak or symptom manifests in the class and the child is isolated. The immediate action of the school the principal will be to attention to developing cause or space in the classroom, and the meeting or whatever it may be to isolate the cause. Of course, we don't want any infection or transmission to take place. Once that happens, and while that's happening, essentially, immediately, a variety of chain of actions take place. The Public Health Officers informed The parent is informed the school board is based on the symptoms the public health officer may recommend the child gets a test, which they would do so immediately. The public health officer not the principal, not of the politician, not a public servant doctors, nurses will make a judgment call saying okay, well, based on what I'm hearing, I like the entire class to quarantine or end or get a test. That's a decision for the doctors and medical leaders will decide because of course, that's what I would expect my resume I think we all would expect. So those decisions will come from communicating clearly and directly to the parent of what the impact is and what the recommended next steps are either isolation quarantine, it could be a shorter period of quarantine two days or 24 to 48 hours and it could be a 14 day quarantine really depends on certain no cookie cutter approach you can take based on the challenges that will arise but the protocol is isolation. It's involving public health, and if then empowering the parent with information and recommended next steps under quarantine for period, whatever that quantum of time is excellent. As well as potentially getting the child tested, which would be, which would be directed to be done in that instance immediately at the job test, wait for the results. And then for public health guides. So there's a clear protocol, there's also going to be communication going on that protocol just so parents have a better sense of what happens if this happened. What happens if one child what happens if the teacher has the symptom? What happens and even then whatever it is, as you could imagine, there's hundreds and thousands of scenarios. And that document will be providing to parents just to arm them with more information on what to do, how to respond, and what are your responsibilities with schools? And how do we collaborate really in the context of just maintaining the safety of the kid Center staff, which is paramount and making sure that information flows quickly. You know, not everyone should be getting a call in nine hours after your child may have been nice. We expect that communication out medially and we know our school boards will do.
What direction and support is the government giving boards around cleaning and staffing?
Yeah, this is a big priority. Because you know, Ontario put about $75 million in our plan to hire more staff to hire roughly 1300 custodians more custodians in Ontario, that will be important. That's gonna be critical when it comes to hiring more of them. Keep in mind that when we negotiate agreements, we actually we announced, part of the agreement was an investment support for students to hire upwards of 2000 new facility, so we're actually hiring a lot of new customers. In the context of getting more cleaning, it's also nice to look at staffing, which is critical. 50 of the 75 billion is for staffing, the 25 is for more money, but $30 million in all in for and sanitation stands. So cleaning all these things. We're also looking at additional actions to improve your airflow environments. Certainly driving around the child, encouraging school boards to utilize outdoor spaces for learning, September October inspection, keeping windows open ventilation capacity and the promises of additional ways to help but when it comes to cleaning, we've stepped up that investment lead in this respect. And we know that it's going to be critical. We continue to be there for school boards building. We have set aside significant funding for staffing significant funding for cleaning products, and as I say the risk increases the risk changes this virus creates new evidence that requires new investments or new actions and During reading, for example, we will read it. I've already announced twice now in this area in the last few days, and will continue to step it up based on the challenges that we faced.
What happens during lunch and snack time? Will there be a time when students will be able to take off their masks?
Yeah, you know, it's an important question, because, you know, look, we may be the only province to have mandated mask. I know that sealants. It's tough, right? I mean, anyone who's wearing a mask for a long period of time because it was one of the people in the economy to be quite frank, no adults, to be fair, do it all the time. And someone's essential service, hospitality, food and beverage at first responders. It's tough. So what were the guidance for saying to school boards, educators is to create more calling, you know, mask resets, which, essentially what that means is, you know, to called side or come into a gym large space socially distance by to allow the child to take off the mats for a bit to breed, feel comfortable and then you know, after a certain amount of time that distancing, put the masks back on and even go back to class or school, a school year is going to look a little different. You know, there's a little bit more time for hand wash than there ever would have been shaving a couple of minutes and we'll go to wash hands class is going to be these masks, recesses, capital lunchroom, the cafeteria will not really exist anymore. The guidance we provide the school boards, that will not be the case. It'll be lunch in the classroom. You know, it's going to be a little different. And I appreciate that that'll maybe be, you know, frustrating for the child perhaps. But I think most people recognize why we're changing that behavior to minimize contact to cause the child to screen them before they enter the school. To ensure aggressive testing to step up our query in a significant way to hire nurses, and to do more than I think we will demonstrate it already continued each and every week without exception for more money, more investment more people. And the fact is Canada and practice in this country materials plan is by far, but there's not a province in this country that has any of the areas we've invested in, I heard yesterday that they are building the school. I mean, we are well ahead. We have options for parents, although entering class, and we have prepared for the circumstances based on these challenges and school boards. I've done the work in preparing for and we're grateful for that. So we're just going to work hard. We're going to really appeal to the best interests and instincts of everyone involved in education to do their part. I don't care who you are. I want to thank you for your patience. Thank you for your advocacy. This is a tough, you know, I noticed a tough time a ton of choosing the context of online or in person. But what I can assure you is that the government's plan has been endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer of this province. We've sought the advice of sick kids. Some leading medical research hospitals in Canada, in pediatric hospice, including at the Children's Hospital in Ottawa, really, we're going above and beyond because when it comes to the health of your child and staff, we do whatever it takes. That kind of talking point is underscored by investments and by a commitment to keep wrapping it up. I think you're going to see us continuously doing work to get this right, and to keep these kids safe. And I just really appreciate your questions and your interest, and more importantly, your willingness to give ideas to us. And I want to thank God for really channeling many of those concepts to me, because many of the ones we've landed on are a result of the advocacy of parents, trustees, among others, who really made sure that we here and Billy's been an incredible champion. Just to make sure that those types of ideas are flowing directly to me, either via text message or late night textures or on calls, when is your voice. And I hope in the coming days, you see more of that action really manifest in a way that gives them confidence. But look, my two nieces in the system. Most of my cousins and aunts are getting largely capitalist system they teach, I have 100% of skin in the game to get this right. And so I just want to assure you that we will do whatever it takes. We have a solid plan in this country, we're stepping it up to do more. And I hope that provides the confidence you need to make your decision knowing that you have a choice in this province. And there'll be a better experience online as we try to change the culture in a system of education that has genuinely been opposed to changes in the last year I spent trying to make some changes and all my learning innovations, optimized systems will be 19th century but you know, that was opposed, but there's An opportunity I think that's really embraced you, and to give kids a better experience online, even if they start online and they want to go back and possibly. So thank you very much for the for the opportunity today for inviting me again. And thank you all to the trustees working so hard and to all the parents really appreciate this opportunity. I look forward to being back. I don't really we'll probably send me a text this way. Well, we should do this again. And I will happily accept as I always will, because I care deeply about this community is proud of the standard, Billy, just I guess two weeks ago, when we announced that our government will be delivering a new university, people are going to store investment. It's not my area college. It's not elementary school and high school childcare, but in the area of education, something I'm proud of, and I'm really excited to see as your residents I may have gotten to Western for my first degree, but I'm really proud of your University's solid institution. And I'm excited to see that open and I want to thank the league for One day your children will want to go to post-secondary.
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.