I hope this letter finds you and your family and loved ones well. I know you have a lot of questions about how educators will be supporting students in their learning during the school closure.
I also know many of our staff members and students have been keeping in contact during the closure, whether it’s been through a classroom tool or social media. We all care about our students and families and want to maintain these important connections.
As a board, we have been identifying opportunities to support the continuity of learning and caring. Our staff will provide important support in gathering information to coordinate learning and caring plans for our students during this challenging and unprecedented time. Not all of our students have access to technology and we are looking at ways to make technology accessible. Plans are in place for school staff to connect with families to check to see how our students are doing, and gather information on particular technology needs of students and families.
As you know, on March 20, the province provided phase one of this learning, which includes online opportunities for students to engage in independent learning through Learn at Home. Additional online learning resources are available on our Board website. We know the importance of teacher-led learning, and this will play an important role in our efforts to support student learning and well-being, which will inform phase two of learning continuity. Although this is still not ideal, we need to find new ways to engage and learn and work together, while apart. We are continuing to work with the Ontario Ministry of Education to prepare for the continuity of learning and caring across YRDSB and the province.
We are also receiving questions regarding how long the school closure will last. The Ministerial Order stated that all publicly funded schools would reopen on April 6. However, on March 23, Premier Doug Ford stated during a press conference that it is “unlikely that schools will reopen on April 6. ”At this time, school boards have not received notice, additional information or clarification on the timing of schools reopening. As soon as we receive this information, we will share it with families.
I know you still have many questions about assessment, evaluation, what the day-to-day will look like. We don’t have all of the answers to your questions today. Our intention is to share information with you as soon as possible, as we receive it. We will continue to share these plans with you.
Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families and your loved ones. I know everyone is dealing with a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty at this time. If you or others in your family are experiencing emotional distress, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. There are also crisis counselling supports available, if needed, through the KidsHelpPhone 1-800-668-6868 or 310-COPE (905-310-2673) and Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600.
For those in our community who are essential workers, thank you for all that you are doing to keep our communities safe, healthy and fed. For those who are able, please stay home as much as possible to flatten the curve of this pandemic and help keep our healthcare workers and first responders safe. Further, I want to thank all our families who are staying at home. Although we have never faced something like this before, we can get through this together, while staying apart.
Director of Education