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Union says Ford government needs to do five things to get schools ready to open again

in Education by
TLDSB recognizes no mandatory online training occurred for local teachers

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) says the provincial Conservative government’s decision to close schools today because of the surging pandemic is only the first step of what should happen next.

Ontario schools will stay closed indefinitely to in-person learning as the pandemic surges in Ontario to levels not seen before. Premier Doug Ford just announced this Monday afternoon along with Education Minister Stephen Lecce – just 24 hours after Lecce had said schools were safe to resume classes after the break.

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School board trustee wonders why teachers are not a priority for COVID vaccines

in Education/Health by
School board trustee wonders why teachers are not priority for vaccines
"School staff are frontline workers and unfortunately the health units and the ministry do not see it that way."

As far as trustee Gary Brohman is concerned, staff working in Trillium Lakelands District School Board schools are essential workers and he cannot understand why the province has not made the vaccination of teachers, administrators and support staff a priority.

At the recent school board meeting, Brohman advocated forcefully for staff vaccines to be safe against the threat of COVID-19.

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TLDSB recognizes no mandatory online training occurred for local teachers

in Education by
TLDSB recognizes no mandatory online training occurred for local teachers

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.

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Kawartha Lakes students back to school Monday

in Education by

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.

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Union disputes letter sent to TLDSB parents about teacher online training

in Education by
School board trustee wonders why teachers are not priority for vaccines

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.”

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‘A Downeyville Dozen’: 12 local men in pin-up calendar for church fundraiser

in Community by
'A Downeyville Dozen': 12 local men in pin-up calendar for church fundraiser
Peter Downey was one of 11 men who volunteered to be part of the calendar.

Mary Connell of St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Downeyville has made sure people in the area have one less excuse for missing appointments next year, while at the same time raising money for the next phase of improvements to the Downeyville Hall.

And, all it took was 12 good men.

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Worries about octoblocks grow as students, teachers deal with relentless pace

in Education by

Despite the mostly positive reports coming from senior Trillium Lakelands District School Board staff regarding octoblocks, a different narrative is emerging powered by student and teacher experiences.

Octoblocks, according to a school trustee, a union representative, and three teachers are affecting students and staff in a number of negative ways.

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Learning at home, HVAC funding among challenges for TLDSB

in Education by
TLDSB recognizes no mandatory online training occurred for local teachers

Senior staff at Trillium Lakelands Board of Education made sure trustees were aware at their regular September meeting of the challenges they’re facing — including upgrading HVAC systems.

The challenge, according to superintendent of business Tim Ellis, is that although the board received additional funding for HVAC updates of more than $500,000, boards only have eight weeks to spend it or lose it.

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

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

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