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Remember good old snow days? Say hello to online learning instead

in Education by
Remember good old snow days? Say hello to online learning instead

On snow days bused students generally stay home when the harshest winter days mean bus cancellations, something that seems to be a common, positive memory for rural kids.

Town kids are often expected to trudge on into class or get dropped off to school by parents.

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At-home learning by workbook starting five weeks later than planned: TLDSB

in Education by

It’s been back to school for a while now — but not for everyone.

Staff and trustees of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board were caught off guard by the number of families choosing at-home learning with work booklets, rather than online at home. Only now, the week of Oct. 19, are students finally starting school for those who chose this learning option.

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Board says parents may need to take their kids to school as bus driver shortage intensifies

in Education by

The Trillium Lakelands District School Board has posted to social media that due to the ongoing bus driver shortage parents should be prepared to handle their own transportation needs to and from school if needed.

“Due to our current shortage of qualified school bus drivers,” the board’s social media message began, “any day we (TLDSB) could be without a driver for your child’s route. It is important to make alternative transportation arrangements to get your child to and from school in the event of a cancellation.”

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Health unit talks protocols if school closure needed

in Education/Health by
Octoblocks: Trustees hear pros and cons of 22 days of only one class

With the second wave of COVID-19 confirmed by Premier Doug Ford and with record numbers of new cases being diagnosed every day, the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit has clearly laid out their protocols regarding school closures.

Chandra Tremblay, manager of corporate services, communication and IT for the health unit, was asked via e-mail how many cases of COVID would need to be present to close any of the 68 schools schools that the health unit was responsible for?

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Return to a post-secondary education during COVID-19

in Opinion by

In August of 2014, I sat in my bedroom scrolling through the Trent University website, nervously selecting courses for the first year of my undergraduate studies. Fast forward six years, and I found myself nervously scrolling through the website again, selecting courses for the final year of my undergrad. This time though, my nerves are caused by a new uncertainty – COVID-19.

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85 per cent of local parents sending their kids back to school

in Education by
“There are limited buses available. There is also a driver shortage.”

At a Special Meeting of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board, director of education Wes Hahn said that the vast majority of parents have opted to return their children to regular full day learning beginning September 8.

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Ontario principals ask for more time for school openings

in Education by

The Ontario Principals’ Council (OPC) that represents over 5,000 school leaders in public elementary and secondary schools across the province has asked for more time to get their schools ready for opening in September.

Schools across Ontario are slated to be open Sept. 8, but the OPC, in a press release shared late last week, has recommended that the start of the school year be delayed until September 14 “to allow staff the time to train on matters such as PPE, outbreak management and tracing protocols.”

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Are the teachers onside?

in Back to School 2020/Education by

The short answer? No.

Most Ontario teachers say they want to be back in the classroom this fall, but only if local school boards and the province meet several important criteria. One teacher admitted to being baffled by “how you can teach, discipline and assist without violating social distance regulations. It is simply impossible to do.”

When the province announced in late July that all publicly funded schools were to offer full-day, five-day-a-week school this fall, with pre-COVID class sizes, it caught many teachers off guard and caused a social media backlash seldom seen in the educational community.

One long-time elementary teacher expressed disgust for the Hospital for Sick Children report the province used as a basis for its focus on in-person learning for the fall. (All classroom teachers quoted in this article asked for anonymity in exchange for sharing their candid opinions.) “I am sure they are fine doctors (at Sick Kids) but they haven’t been in a classroom since the days of the one-room school house. I think they are expecting me to stand at the front of the class sheathed in Plexiglas and deliver my lesson. They are so clueless about what real teaching is.”

Online, in meetings and in private, many teachers are voicing similar frustrations about the reopening of schools this fall.

“Our prime concern is the health and safety of our workers, and along with them, students,” said Colin Matthew in an e-mail. His union represents secondary teachers in Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

“We will be focused primarily on infection control.”This may mean some combination of masking along with physical distancing which can be incredibly difficult in a high school environment and on the buses,” Matthew added.

His counterpart with the elementary teachers’ union, Karen Bratina, agreed. “Regardless of the model (for instruction) emergency funding must be provided by the Ford government to ensure a safe and effective reopening of schools for all stakeholders,” she said.

“Boards will require additional staff to ensure smaller class sizes for social distancing requirements,” Bratina added, “and sufficient personal protective equipment must be provided along with additional hand-washing facilities throughout the school.”

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association represents staff in the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB). It issued a strongly worded statement on August 10 that read, in part, “The safe care of our children is a fundamental social compact. Society and economies are built around child care. Parents want to send their kids back to school, but only if it is safe.”

“Older teachers instructing high school students every day and in classes of 25 to 30 are very concerned about catching COVID,” one veteran teacher said.

“We now know teens carry and spread the disease at the same or higher rates than other adults, and that scares me.”

All students must re-register for school as TLDSB gauges interest from parents

in Education by

Following closely on the heels of the provincial announcement that Trillium Lakelands District School Board buildings will be able to re-open Sept. 8 with few restrictions, the local board is trying to assess how many children will actually be returning to school in the fall.

“Next week all TLDSB families will receive an email with a link to a form asking to re-register each child for in-person and at-home learning,” a press release on the board websites shares.

“Once this information is received a program will be developed with enhanced public health protocols in place.”

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Students can begin retrieving personal belongings from schools

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Students will get one last look at their schools, if needed, as Trillium Lakelands District School Board moved to give limited access to schools for staff and students starting today.

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