School closure extended to end of May

Dear families,

We have received notice from the Minister of Education that the current closure of all Ontario schools will be extended until at least May 29, 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 to students during this time. You will receive additional information about the potential opening closer to the end of May. We do not have information about extensions beyond this date. 

It is critically important at this time to continue to follow the direction of public health to practise social distancing in order to flatten the curve of this pandemic virus. 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.

 

Online Learning

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. 

I’m sure you have a lot of questions and concerns about the further extension of school closures. 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. More information regarding online learning will be sent to you in the near future. 

 

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. 

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YRDSB Donates PPE to York Region Hospitals

YRDSB has made a donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) to York Region hospitals to help arm frontline healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19. 

Through a coordinated effort involving all YRDSB schools and learning centres, a donation of over 158,000 pieces of PPE was made to Mackenzie Health Hospital, Markham-Stouffville Hospital and Southlake Regional Hospital. The donation was comprised of essential equipment, including 141,600 pairs of protective gloves, 3,350 surgical face masks, 436 sets of protective eyewear, 40 face shields and other essential pieces of PPE.

 “During these unprecedented times, everyone must do their part to support frontline workers,” said Juanita Nathan, Board Chair. “These heroes continue to sacrifice to keep our communities safe and we are so fortunate to have the means to help support them as they stand on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.”

 “Supporting our frontline workers is a collective responsibility. Whether you do your part by staying home, making a donation or following the advice of public health, we are all playing a role to ensure the safety of our frontline healthcare workers, while they keep us safe,” said Louise Sirisko, Director of Education. “We are honoured to have the opportunity to support and to begin to repay the debt that we all have to our frontline healthcare workers.”

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YRDSB Budget Consultation Process

YRDSB Budget Consultation Process

York Region District School Board is inviting parents, guardians and community members to participate in its annual budget consultation process.  

YRDSB has created an online form to gather community feedback into the process. This will provide the Board with valuable information about how the community would like to see the school board budget allocated to better support student achievement and well-being. The results will be used to inform the 2020-21 school year budget allocation. 

YRDSB hopes to hear from as many people as possible. Please take a few minutes to share your feedback.

 

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YRDSB Postpones Graduations and Cancels Proms for 2019-20 School Year

York Region District School Board Postpones All Graduations and Cancels All Proms for 2019-20 School Year Due to COVID-19

 

York Region District School Board has postponed all Grade 8 and Grade 12 graduations and canceled all proms for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

“As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve on a daily basis, our priority during this challenging time remains the health and safety of our students and staff,” said Chair of the Board, Juanita Nathan. “It is with much regret and after careful consideration, that we have made this difficult decision.”

This action is in line with physical distancing measures currently being taken by health authorities and various levels of government to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We recognize that this is disappointing news. We are working to find alternate ways to recognize our students’ accomplishments and milestones that are in line with current health guidelines,” said Director of Education, Louise Sirisko.

Schools across Ontario currently remain closed by order from the Premier of Ontario to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Update: Assessment, evaluation and reporting during COVID-19

Dear families and students in secondary school,

Yesterday, I sent a message providing information regarding assessment, evaluation and reporting during COVID-19, as well as additional details about access to technology, learning from home and tips available for families on our Board website. This update provides further specifics about final marks for half-credit courses and midterm marks. This year, midterm marks are only required for graduating students. 

Teachers will use their professional judgement and interpretation of evidence of student learning when determining final marks for half-credit courses and midterm marks for potential graduates. Under the current circumstances, teachers are asked to use the full body of assessment evidence available to them based on work assigned up until March 13 to determine a midterm mark that reflects a student’s learning and achievement to date. Additionally, teachers may use evidence of learning and formative assessment from April 6 onward, if the further achievement of expectations results in an improved mark. Midterm marks will be submitted to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS) on April 23.  

If you have questions about assessment, evaluation and reporting, or any other classroom or course-related questions, I encourage you to connect with your child’s teachers directly. Thank you for your support during these exceptional circumstances. Please continue to visit our Board website and Twitter for updates while your child learns from home. 

Sincerely,

Louise Sirisko
Director of Education

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Assessment, evaluation and reporting during COVID-19

Dear families and students,

I hope you, your families and loved ones are all well. On the evening of Friday, April 3, the Ontario Ministry of Education sent out a memo to school boards outlining guidance on assessment, evaluation and reporting. This letter provides information for this week and beyond. If further direction is provided by the Ministry of Education regarding assessment, evaluation and reporting, the details in this letter will be modified where necessary and we will communicate that to you. 

Elementary:  Grade 1 to 8 students will receive a final report card at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Kindergarten students will receive the Communication of Learning. Assessment information gathered prior to March 13 will be used to inform the information in these documents. Elementary students will continue to be assessed throughout the remainder of the school year to support their ongoing learning.  Specifically, teachers will use a variety of approaches to gather evidence of how students are progressing in their learning. Teachers will provide feedback to students on their progress.

Secondary: All secondary students will receive a final report card at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Teachers will continue to assign learning tasks, projects and culminating activities that will be assessed to inform students about progress and marked for the purposes of evaluation. Teachers will communicate results of these marked assignments to students.  Results will be used by teachers to inform students’ final course marks.

Grade 12 Student Midterm Marks: This year, midterm marks are only required for graduating students. Teachers will use their professional judgement and interpretation of evidence of student learning when determining a midterm mark for potential graduates. Under the current circumstances, teachers are asked to use the full body of assessment evidence available to them based on work assigned up until March 13 to determine a midterm mark that reflects a student’s learning and achievement to date. The midterm marks will be submitted to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) and the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS) on April 23.  

Graduation Requirements: The Government of Ontario stated that no student will have their graduation compromised by COVID-19. The Ministry of Education continues to work with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure that there will be no barriers to accessing post-secondary education.

Access to Technology: We know not all of our students have the technology they need to access online learning resources. We are working to get equipment into the hands of our students and their families in a safe and efficient manner. Secondary students will begin to access YRDSB technology this week, with elementary students receiving technology starting next week.

Learning from Home: As part of learning from home, most students and staff will engage in learning that is not required in real time. This means they will engage in activities at different times of the day and evening to best suit their individual needs. Teachers will develop learning opportunities (e.g., tasks, assignments or projects) for students that may involve engagement both online and offline.  Teachers will plan opportunities to assess student learning and provide feedback to students throughout the remainder of the school year. At this time, there is no requirement for teacher-led instruction with groups of students or classes online at the same time. Throughout all planning and programming processes, teachers consider the strengths and needs of students with Individual Education Plans. 

We recognize these are exceptional circumstances and learning from home can be very different for our students and families. We know parents and caregivers may be essential workers or working from home and not available to provide support for students. These are not normal times and as educators, we understand the challenges ahead. Our goal is to create online learning environments that are safe, equitable and inclusive, and support every learner, without penalty for circumstances beyond the control of our students. We will do our very best to support our students during this unprecedented time, and believe our students will rise to the occasion, presenting their best efforts.

Tips for Families: Teaching and learning online at home is new for our students, families and teachers. To help you support your children through this transition to learning from home, we have developed some tips for families available on the Board website at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19. You will also find additional information about community supports, learning and well-being resources and a list of frequently asked questions. The website includes a built-in translation tool that can translate content into over 100 languages. 

If you have questions about assessment, evaluation and reporting, or any other classroom or course-related questions, I encourage you to connect with your child’s teachers directly. We are learning together. Thank you for your support, patience and understanding. 

Sincerely,

Louise Sirisko
Director of Education

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Update: Learning and Caring Plan

Dear Families, 

Earlier this week, we sent home a letter to families that outlined the steps the Board was taking to move learning online with our new Learning and Caring Plan. Today, I am pleased to provide you with another update and share additional information about what students and families can expect in the coming weeks.

This plan has four steps that outline how teachers will implement and deliver online learning to our students, in line with Ministry of Education requirements. We have posted an overview of the Learning and Caring Plan on the Board website at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19, along with our FAQs section that provides the most up-to-date answers that are frequently asked. 

This week, your children’s teachers are contacting families, preparing their online platforms, conducting curriculum checks and planning. Next week, teachers will begin to clarify expectations for students and implement online learning. This will be an exciting time for students, teachers, principals, and support staff. As we move into this next stage of online learning, there will be many opportunities for exploration, collaboration, and engagement. Together, we will accomplish great things. 

As outlined by the letter you received yesterday from the Minister of Education, teachers will deliver learning by grade groupings as follows:

  • Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week 
  • Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week 
  • Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week 
  • Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students 

I want to assure you that we will continue to plan for the needs of all of our students, including students with special education needs and English language learners. Teachers have been provided supplementary resources to design online learning opportunities to engage students in accessing concepts and skills based on the Ontario curriculum. 

We will be reaching out to families who have requested technology and internet service in the coming week to share how we can provide the support your family needs to access online learning.

As we implement our Learning and Caring Plan, we know that each class may look different depending on the student and class needs, area of study, and teacher’s professional judgement. We ask for your patience as we chart this new course together. I want to acknowledge the work of our educators and staff in preparing for this transition to new ways of teaching and learning.

I know our educators are looking forward to reconnecting with their students, and we will continue to navigate these uncertain times together, keeping our students at the centre of all that we do. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Louise Sirisko

Director of Education 

 

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Letter from the Ontario Ministry of Education

Dear families, 

I hope this correspondence finds you, your family and loved ones healthy and safe.  As we shared yesterday, the Premier of Ontario and the Ontario Minister of Education issued an extension of school closures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Schools will remain closed to students until May 4, 2020. Please see my video message about this extended closure announcement.

https://youtu.be/gNG_OzAtg3I

Today, the Ontario Minister of Education has written a letter to all families and asked that school boards share it broadly. You may find a copy of this letter on the Board’s website at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19.  

Teacher-led learning will begin the week of April 6, and teachers are reaching out this week to check-in on students and families. Details on our Board’s Learning and Caring plan for continued learning will be released soon. In the meantime, you can see my video message to hear how YRDSB is supporting Learning and Caring through the extended closure.  

https://youtu.be/XfAKoqg1pB4

Please continue to follow us on Twitter @YRDSB and check your email to receive updates from us during this rapidly changing global situation.

I wish you continued health and well-being. 

Sincerely,

Louise Sirisko

Director of Education

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A Message from Minister of Education to Ontario's Parents

Dear Parents,

I am writing to you today exactly two weeks since our government declared a State of Emergency in the province.

I know this period has not been easy for you or your children, especially as the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak begin to have increasing effects on your day-to-day lives and livelihoods.

The battle against COVID-19 has not been easy, but I continue to be incredibly inspired by the bravery and steadfastness you and your children have demonstrated in our efforts to stop the spread of this outbreak. Since Cabinet made the decision to close the public-school system on March 12, we have seen cascading steps taken by the public and private sectors to protect our most vulnerable.

I want to assure you that, as Minister of Education, the health and safety of your children remains our government’s utmost priority; there is simply no priority more critical. Every decision we make is rooted in the fundamental commitment to safeguard your children’s well-being. We are incredibly grateful for the considerable understanding and flexibility you and your children have shown during this period of school closure.

With that commitment in mind, today our government decided to extend the closure of public schools in the province to May 4, along with child care centres and private schools until April 13. In ordinary times, this would be a difficult decision. However, given that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health concurs that this is in the best interest of you and your children’s’ health, this decision was clear and obvious.
While this announcement is consistent with public health policy, I know that this will raise questions about what your children will be doing over the coming weeks with regards to their education, as in-school instruction will not be taking place.
Today, I was proud to announce our government’s plan for the next phase of Learn at Home and how we are supporting students, families, and educators during this period.

To start, we have instructed school boards that, by Monday, April 6, teacher-led learning will resume across the province. Students will begin receiving communication from their teachers and school board staff this week to determine the best way your child can continue learning during this period. For our youngest learners, especially, I am asking you to lend a helping-hand in facilitating these initial conversations with educators when they begin reaching out. This early communication will help ensure all students can participate actively and fully in the rich online learning strategy. We have designed the strategy based on the technology and resources that currently exist at home.

I also know many families in the province may not have access to the technology and broadband connection needed to participate fully in online learning. To remedy this situation, our government has instructed local school boards to offer their existing inventory of computers and devices to students who do not have in-home access. Boards will work with the Ministry to develop a plan to expand the technology to those who need it. I also want to recognize that boards have explored alternative options for students’ access to technology, including engaging in regular conversations with telecommunications providers to determine what options exist to allow families to access Ontario’s world-leading online learning resources.

This is especially necessary for rural and remote communities where connections might not be optimal. I will update you as these conversations regarding technology and broadband options continue to evolve.

As part of this plan for online learning, our government has outlined the minimum expectations for student work-time in a given week based on learning materials and work assigned by your student’s teacher. These expectations, for each teacher, include:
• Kindergarten to grade three: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math;
• Grades four to six: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies;
• Grades seven to eight: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies; and,
• Grades nine to 12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students, and 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students, with a focus on credit accumulation and graduation.

Based on these expectations, this second phase of LearnAtHome will require students to adopt academic discipline and commitment to ensure that they can experience continued academic growth and achievement. I know our students are up to the task.

While these are unprecedented times, I encourage you to support and enable your children to fully commit to the strong learning program we have created for this period of school closure. Your support, inspiration, and motivation will continue to prepare your children to succeed in their learning journey.

I know this period is concerning for parents of students in a graduating cohort. I have said before, and I want to reiterate: no student will have their graduation jeopardized by the developments of COVID-19. I am working closely with the Honourable Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, and the post-secondary sector. Our government will ensure students, who plan on entering college or university in September 2020, have our full support to accomplish this goal.

As students continue to accumulate credits during this closure period, we will provide further information about how students can align with the post-secondary application process in the coming weeks.

I understand parents with children who may have special education needs, have concerns about at-home learning and the physical absence of educational support staff and resources during this period. I am firmly and unequivocally committed to ensuring that all students continue to have access to the wrap-around supports that promote continued learning and development.

Our government has instructed boards to enable immediate restoration of communication between students and educational assistants, paraprofessionals, and other education workers to reintroduce the continuity of professional support to students. We will not allow any student to fall through the cracks during this unprecedented time. My Ministry is equipping educators with the tools and supports they need to maximize the opportunities and achievements of all learners in the province in an online setting.

While much of the discourse around COVID-19 focuses on the impacts on physical health, I want to acknowledge the significant effects this outbreak may be having on the mental health of Ontarians. Particularly, our youngest learners may be struggling to fully understand and process what it means to their lives, families, friends, and communities. This may very well be a time of fear and anxiety for your child, even if it is not readily apparent.

While you and your children may have many questions about what the future holds, I want to express my heartfelt hope that all children know there are a variety of supports to help process and overcome the multitude of emotions and reactions they may be facing during this period. Our government has directed school boards to ensure mental health workers and professional staff are ready to engage with students immediately in a secure and safe conversation. We continue to support the incredible work being done to provide wrap-around counselling and resources to students across the province.

We have numerous organizations providing critical and professional support for children facing mental health concerns or distress. For example, Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

As we move forward in the next phase of school closure, the expectations of parents, guardians, students, educators, and my Ministry will continue to rise. Having already met countless driven and determined students, educators, and educational workers across the province, I know that we are ready to meet the challenges ahead.

To you, and your child, I want to extend my sincere and unwavering commitment to ensuring every student in the province can continue learning in Ontario’s world-class education system. Our collective commitment to inspiring, supporting, and uplifting our future leaders during this time is unwavering.


Sincerely,


The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

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Email to families from School Principals

During this week, staff from all schools will be contacting families to check in on students. We want to ensure that you receive information from our school, as well as the School Board. As we move forward with online learning opportunities, we want to confirm that students can access a digital environment. As our staff will not be calling from our school, you may see calls coming from, “unknown caller ID”, “Private Name” or “Private Number.”  Throughout this week, we ask that you pick up the call as it may be your child’s teacher. We also know that there is an increase in fraudulent calls, please be assured that your child’s teacher will always identify themselves as such and will only ask questions regarding your child’s education. Just as a reminder, please do not to give sensitive personal information (such as social insurance numbers, etc.) over the phone. Your child’s teacher would not ask this type of information during a call.  

To ensure that our staff can connect with all our families, we will encourage that calls be kept focused. We know that you will have many questions that are still being worked on at the provincial level.  Once we have further information, we will share updates at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19 , Twitter @YRDSB, and emails. 

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