In a letter to all parents of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board (TLDSB) catchment area, Larry Hope, director of education, says he has “no expectation that students will engage in any formal academic learning” before April 3.
“There is currently some confusion about learning for your children during these two weeks of shutdown until April 3. I have no expectation that students will engage in any formal academic learning while they are at home during this initial school shutdown period, and as we gather input from our staff about what is reasonable and manageable within our context,” Hope says in the open letter.
“First of all, and most importantly, you and your family need to look after your own needs first. Your health, safety, and well-being are your priority right now.”
The director of education writes that he realizes “there are many, many parents of at home wondering what is going to happen to their child’s education and to the rest of the school year.”
“There may also be increasing concerns about your child’s mental health and even your own well-being as you make your way through each day in this new reality. First of all, you are not alone. We all have questions and we understand that not having clear answers can be frustrating. Secondly, there are supports available in the community and elsewhere if you or your children are struggling.”
Hope then points out there are some resources at the end of his letter parents can access.
He says at this point in time, the board does not know how long the closure of schools is going to be,” although Education Minister Stephen Lecce is already on the record stating it will not be back to school for kids as of April. 6.
Hope says TLDSB wants to be sure that programming and resources are in place “that are fair and equitable for all our students if the shutdown is going to continue for any length of time.”
“This includes consideration for families who do not have internet access or resources for any number of reasons. I want to assure you that school boards across the province are working together and with the Ministry of Education to develop a plan that will provide curricular support in a variety of ways so that access will be reasonably available to all.”
In the interim, the director says to check out the resources already posted by the government through the Learn at Home initiative.
“Additionally, please consider the positive impact something as simple as integrating learning into your daily routines can be. For example, a half hour of reading a couple times a day, measuring in the kitchen or workshop, or tuning into online learning resources if you are able. These are a few simple things that can support our students with continuation of learning in a manageable way until more formal learning opportunities are implemented.”
He says many staff members “have been or are in the process of reaching out to students to check in to see how things are going.”
“We are highly supportive of our staff reaching out and engaging with their students and families but again, I have not directed our staff to do so in the short term.”
Hope says to check the TLDSB website at tldsb.ca/covid19/ for other updates.
“The best thing you can do right now is to focus on your family and being well. As always, we will get through this. And as always, we will do our best to keep you as up-to-date as possible in these times of change.”