In an effort to keep schools safe from COVID-19, the Ontario government is investing an additional $381 million provided by the federal Safe Return to Class Fund. This funding will be used to improve air quality and ventilation in schools, support online learning, promote student mental health and hire more staff.
At a recent press conference Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Chief Medical Officer of Health David Williams were vague on key educational issues, leaving Trillium Lakelands District School Board parents, students and staff needing more clarification about March Break.
This includes questions on who will be administering the rapid COVID-19 test in the school setting, and when Muskoka students be back to in-person learning.
During the question and answer section of the briefing, March Break, scheduled to run from March 13-22, became a point of contention. Dr. Williams was asked directly if there were plans to “cancel March Break to make up for time lost due to COVID-19.”
At a recent Trillium Lakelands District School Board meeting, Director of Education Wes Hahn said the board will soon be looking for feedback to determine its next five-year plan.
This is the last year of their 2015-2020 strategic plan, which has focused on student success and achievement. The next five year plan is already being developed and the director wants as many different shareholder groups involved in its planning as possible.
Earlier this month, the Trillium Lakelands District School Board distributed a memo from the Ministry of Education telling parents that all teachers in Ontario had received mandatory training in how to best deliver virtual programming.
Sinead Fegan, board communications officer, in an email to The Advocate received Jan. 15, shared that the training that took place for TLDSB staff on the Sept. 2, 3 and Nov. 20 PD Days was not mandatory, drawing into question the veracity of the statements made by the education minister to the contrary.
Many parents in Kawartha Lakes are overjoyed to hear that their school-aged children who were attending in-person learning before the Christmas holiday will be returning to school on Jan. 25.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the chief medical officer of health, announced that schools under jurisdiction of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will be returning to in-person learning Jan. 25 while schools under jurisdiction of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit will continue remote learning until at least Feb. 10.
Reports made by multiple Trillium Lakelands District School Board officials indicate a system that, while working hard to provide the best available education, is straining under the almost constant change being thrown at it by pandemic-related developments.
These stressors are impacting administrators, front-line staff, parents, and students.
Director of Education Wes Hahn spent the better part of a half hour detailing how the board was coping with the changes that have occurred just since Jan. 1.
The Ontario government has extended the temporary remote learning period for elementary schools by an additional two weeks while they monitor the ever increasing second wave of COVID-19.
Colin Matthew, president of District 15 of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation, is upset that the Trillium Lakelands District School Board forwarded a letter from the Minister of Education to parents with important contextual errors unchallenged and uncorrected.
The Jan. 2 press release, received by parents and guardians yesterday, stated that, “to ensure a better learning experience every teacher in the province received mandatory training on remote learning before the school year began.”
Premier Doug Ford’s announcement of temporary closures of all publicly-funded schools in Ontario beginning Jan. 4 has raised the ire of Ontario’s three largest teacher federations.
The Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation bemoan the lack of consultation regarding the closings, the poorly thought out return of elementary students to in-person learning while the province is still locked down and the lack of detail and inherent inequalities regarding virtual learning.
Many Kawartha Lakes parents were greeted today by their children arriving home from school for the Christmas holidays with all the school supplies and technology they will need to transition to distance learning effective Jan. 4.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce informed directors of education via memo on Tuesday that while a final decision on school closures hasn’t been finalized, the province wants all students to have the tools on hand at home to make the transition to distance learning if necessary.