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Fleming College scrambles for fall students, given nearly one in three were international

in Education by
Fleming College scrambles for fall students, given nearly one in three were international

Nearly a third of Fleming College’s student body is made up of international students – a large student segment now in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Typically, about 6,800 students are international learners who are willing to pay hefty tuition costs to study at a Canadian post-secondary institution.

For instance, for Fleming’s well-known Fish and Wildlife Technician program, a domestic student would pay $2,085 per semester. An international student must pay $8,147 per semester.

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2020: The year of living dangerously for educational workers in Ontario

in Education/Opinion by
The Israeli system, which re-opened as parts of Ontario soon will be, was forced to quickly shut down.

I cannot imagine what my former colleagues are thinking about the 2020 calendar year.

This has probably been the toughest year ever for Ontario educational workers. The public seems to have forgotten that the year began with a series of job actions by unionized educational workers from across the province hoping to convince an intransigent government to negotiate in good faith.

Teachers were winning the battle for public opinion and the government was on the back heel until COVID arrived last March throwing the school system into chaos.

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Board adopts ‘octmesters’ — 22 straight, full days of same subject

in Education by

On Aug. 20, education minister Stephen Lecce instructed all non-designated boards to plan for a blocked semester school day for secondary schools. At the August 25 board meeting the Trillium Lakelands District School Board presented their new secondary school day structure along with voting mandatory masking for all students K-12.

Blocked semesters, also known as octmesters, will replace the quadmesters originally planned by the local board. Quadmesters were the option presented to parents earlier in August for their consideration as they and their children made decisions about whether their children would select in-person learning or remote learning.

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Catholic principals join call for slower re-opening

in Education by
Catholic principals join call for slower re-opening
“This will afford principals, vice-principals and staff to better prepare for the start of a new school year.”

The Catholic Principals Council of Ontario, representing administrators working for the Peterborough, Victoria, Northumberland and Clarington School Board, added their voices late last week to a call by public board principals represented by the Ontario Principals Council to keep schools shuttered across Ontario for one more week as staff prepare for schooling in the age of COVID.

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TLDSB commits $4 million from reserve to cover COVID expenses

in Education by

Local trustees approved the spending of up to $4 million of their financial reserve to cover COVID related expenses for the 2020-2021 school year.

The board voted unanimously “to access surplus funds up to 2 per cent of the board operating budget to come from the surplus to be used at the discretion of senior management.”

At the same meeting the board announced a $220 million dollar budget with a $995,000 deficit for the 2020-2021 school year.

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What the first day of school will look like, elementary and secondary

in Education by

Wes Hahn, director of education for the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, began to share with trustees last Tuesday at a Special Meeting of the Board what opening day for students is going to look like.

School signage

Signage is current being installed at all schools to indicate what access doors are locked and unlocked and what direction students are to walk in the halls.

Cleaning

“Enhanced cleaning” of facilities is planned for morning, mid-day and evening each school day. Hahn praised the “passion and commitment to making this work” shown by custodial staff right across the board.

Length of in-school day

300 minutes of learning time have been mandated by the province.

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What options are parents considering?

in Back to School 2020/Education by

Back-to-school decisions have never been as complex as the ones facing parents and guardians this fall.

With no vaccine and concern about a second wave of the pandemic arriving in late fall, parents spent much of the summer agonizing about whether to send their children back to school, enrol them in e-learning or home-school them this year.

Since Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce made their announcements on schools reopening, social media have been ablaze with parents of school-aged children asking for advice from other parents who are facing the same circumstances.

One common topic is the concept of “podding,” where a group of parents combine financial resources to hire a teacher to instruct their similarly-aged children either in person or online, at least for the fall and early winter. The teacher provides the expertise the parents don’t have, the cost is shared across several families, children are no longer being isolated in their family group, and the parents can wait out the growing pains that regular schools will experience in dealing with COVID-19.

Depending upon the size of the pod and the number of children involved, the costs would likely be in the range of $50-$100 a week per family.

Most local families, of course, cannot afford podding.

Three parents of multiple children agreed to be interviewed anonymously for this article. They all agreed that they had very few choices for the fall beyond sending their children back to school and hoping that the province and local schoolboards can keep their children safe.

“The Catholic board seems to be playing catch-up,” one parent observed. “Communication has been terrible, and rumours become Facebook facts when the board is silent. I have heard that our board is allowing cottagers to enroll their children locally rather than return to their urban homes. I have phoned the board office to find out if that is true and gotten no satisfaction,” she continued.

“I don’t have the competency to help my kids as they enter high school,” a second parent admitted, “and our internet is just not good enough to sustain the two of us working from home and our kids trying to do their schooling from home. I am terrified, as are my girlfriends.”

“I think Dougie (Premier Doug Ford) has gone for cheap rather than safe,” said a third parent, “but families like ours don’t have the choices that some do. One thing though, they won’t be riding the bus. Fifty kids on a bus … those are mobile petri dishes. I will drive them and pick them up.”

Supply teachers will not be confined to just one school when students return in fall

in Education by
“Staff and student safety are paramount, but folks have to make an income," says Hahn.

Moving from school to school is something supply teachers (or occasional teachers) have always done, as they work to fill in the gaps in the system. It will continue to be an expectation of supply teachers, even during the pandemic – a reality that so far, the province seems willing to ignore.

The initial investigations of deaths at long-term care homes in Ontario pointed strongly to part time staff working at multiple facilities as a key part of the problem with virus spread.

Staff members acted as vectors for the novel coronavirus, carrying it from one facility to the next.

In an interview with Trillium Lakelands District School Board director of education, Wes Hahn, he said the board was “just starting to look at this issue.”

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Most schools re-opening in the fall: TLDSB to announce more details soon

in Education/Health by
Where is our local voice? School board should speak out about Ford’s classroom plans
Students will be cohorted into small learning groups to reduce contacts with others.

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced in Whitby today the re-opening of most Ontario schools for a five day a week, five hour a day of regular learning commencing Sept. 8.

The event, held at a Catholic secondary school, was a who’s who of the provincial Conservative Party with local MPP Laurie Scott joining in for the announcement. Durham Catholic trustees were invited and were in attendance, but no teaching staff or support staff were present for this crucial announcement.

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Trustees opt for ‘fresh face and new ideas’ with incoming director of education

in Education by
Trustees opt for ‘fresh face and new ideas’ with incoming director of education

Many board of education watchers were pleasantly surprised when Trillium Lakelands District School Board trustees chose Wes Hahn as the new director of education.

Hahn hails from the District School Board of Niagara, a progressive board where he was known for his hands-on approach and frequent visits to schools.

Niagara board chair, Sue Barnett, says Trillium Lakelands will be fortunate to have him.

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