December 22nd, 2020
Yesterday the Premier of Ontario, in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, announced that starting January 4th both our elementary and our secondary students will begin the new year learning virtually from home and our schools will be closed to students during this time. The Premier and Minister of Education have made clear that this decision was made out of an abundance of caution. The Chief Medical Officer of Health has confirmed that the transmission of COVID-19 in schools has remained low, and schools remain a safe place of learning and working for students and staff. However, the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, and we recognize that the students and staff in the WRDSB play an important role in supporting efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.
What does this mean for our students and families?
Students Currently Enrolled in In-Person Learning
Elementary school students are scheduled to return to in-person learning on January 11, 2021.
Secondary school students will continue learning remotely until January 25, 2021, at which point they can resume in-person learning.
For those students currently engaged in in-person learning, their learning will continue virtually from home. While we have distributed nearly 30,000 devices to students to support distance learning, we know there are still some elementary students who will require a device. For those families who have a student who does not have access to a device at home, we would ask you to email your child’s school via the school’s email address. The email address for each school can be found at the bottom of your school’s website. If your family does not have an email account you can call and leave a message at your child’s school. Please ensure you provide the necessary information including your child’s name, grade, classroom teacher and a contact number. Your school will reach out to those families who have requested devices and will provide direction as to time and location for pick-up. We will begin distributing devices to those families who require them starting Monday, January 4th.
For students who are currently enrolled in in-person learning please note that learning will begin on January 4th and it will look different than what you and your child (or children) experienced in the spring of 2020. For example:
- During periods of distance learning students will be provided with synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities. The amount of synchronous instruction in a day will fluctuate by topic, instructional task, or individual student learning needs. Teachers will inform parents as to when synchronous learning will occur.
- Teachers will provide families and students with timetables for the school day using the school’s bell times
- Learning materials and activities are based on the Ontario curriculum and include opportunities for guided instruction, large and small group learning, synchronous check-ins, and asynchronous independent work.
Don’t forget about Tech@Home – your first stop for tech support in the WRDSB. This website contains resources to help students and families troubleshoot technical problems they may be experiencing with their Chromebooks or iPads.
Students and families who prefer a ‘tech-free’ learning environment
On Monday, January 4, homeroom teachers will be connecting with students and families. Families are encouraged to share this preference with their child’s teacher to ensure alternative learning opportunities are provided in a tech-free environment.
Students with Complex Special Education Needs
In both Elementary and Secondary, students with Complex Special Education Needs will be learning remotely with their classes from January 4th to 8th. This will include both synchronous and asynchronous learning options, as well as providing additional support through specialized staff (i.e., Psychological Consultants, Social Work, Special Education Itinerant Teacher and Paraprofessional Staff and Speech and Language Pathologists). The return to in-person learning for Elementary students is scheduled to resume on January 11th and the in-person learning date for Secondary Students with Complex Special Education Needs is being finalized and will be communicated in the near future.
Students Currently Enrolled in Distance Learning Program
For students who are currently in the Distance Learning Program, students will continue with their normal schedule. However, given these unique circumstances, it is understood that teachers may not be able to teach a fully synchronous day as they typically would. In these situations, teachers will communicate any changes to their timetables to students and families.
In closing, we would ask our families to be patient, as we distribute devices and get things up and running. Please know that everyone is doing their best to ensure our students are supported.
We know that this closure will create stress for families and for our students. We will continue to reinforce the importance of well-being, mental health and safety for staff and students and will dedicate some time during our first days back together to these important topics. For some students, learning remotely from home may contribute to their sense of isolation. Please be reassured that staff are here to support those students and families and would encourage you to access or reach out to the resources listed on our website should you be in need of support.