Defender Families,

This is an unprecedented time and we are all in uncharted waters. However, we are a people of hope. Though we do not return from March Break physically together, we are united in our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing. If I am being honest, our staff is struggling being away from the students we love and the strong Defender community we are a part of. I am certain it is equally challenging, if not more difficult, for your children who have formed connections in the classroom and hallways with peers and staff. Not to mention the fact that routines are out the window! I have 3 sons under 6…I am feeling the same challenge you are. But, we will get through this and we will once again be learning and laughing together.

Staff Parade on Friday at 10 AM

I reached out to the staff about a way we could connect with the community and suggested a staff parade. They were already planning to do one!!!! We do have a great group of staff at Saint Peter. The staff will be driving in separate vehicles as we practice social distancing. We will be driving around the neighbourhood and hope to see all of our students waving from their front lawns. Please remember to keep 2 metres apart when you are waving, but we feel it will be a great way for some face to face contact without compromising safety. More details and a reminder will be sent out later this week!

A LOT has happened over the March Break and I want to keep everyone up to date by sharing those news items below. As more information is sent my way, I will send out further Newswires. Usually I try to keep to 1 per week, but things seem to be changing almost daily, so we will keep regular updates coming your way.

Letter From the Ministry of Education (March 22nd)

Attached below is a letter from Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, regarding the state of education in these unprecedented times. Please read and we will make sure to keep everyone up to date with whatever information needs to be forwarded on.

Minister Letter to Parents – EN – March 22 2020

Province Launches First Phase of the Learn at Home Portal (March 20)

TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford joined Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education to launch the first phase of Learn at Home and Apprendre à la maison, a new online portal that will provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

 

“As a father myself, I know parents always want the best for their children, and I also know from speaking to parents that many are concerned that their child is going to fall behind while schools are closed during this difficult period,” said Premier Ford. “To support families and students, our government has developed a one-stop spot for at-home learning. It doesn’t replace school, but offers a great alternative as we approach the end of March Break.”

 

Learn at Home offers all students high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French. Elementary resources are designed to help young students learn at home with interactive activities that encourage participation through entertaining and stimulating digital content. High school content was designed with a focus on STEM courses and ensure core competencies and skills are reinforced. The government is also providing access to course content for students who take the initiative to refresh and extend their learning.

 

“The Learn at Home initiative will help mitigate ‘learning loss’ during this period of uncertainty,” said Minister Lecce. “Our plan will provide interactive teacher-led math supports to keep students learning and empower all students to learn key skills with an emphasis on STEM education, while also arming parents with resources to support them as their kids learn at home.”

 

“By offering new at-home educational resources, the province is further supporting Ontario’s families as they help contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. “Each and every Ontarian has a role to play in flattening the curve. Our government is providing families with the support they need so that they can continue to contribute to our shared goal of protecting the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians, including our young students.”

 

“TVO is proud to be part of this important initiative by the Ministry of Education.” said Jennifer Hinshelwood, TVO’s Acting Chief Operating Officer. “TVO’s suite of digital learning products are designed to engage young minds in learning – a mission that seems doubly important at times like this when many of our traditional learning environments are not accessible.”

 

The at-home activities offered by Learn at Home provide quick and easy access to some of Ontario’s best online kindergarten to grade 12 learning resources produced by Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) Educators. As part of the government’s commitment to planning for every scenario, the province is working closely with education stakeholders to develop a plan for scaling and building additional online learning programs.

 

“In these uncertain times, we are proud as a public agency to join the Ministry of Education’s efforts in supporting families and students,” said Eric Minoli, TFO’s Chief Operating Officer. “Our online Apprendre à la maison program will help ensure continuity in education for Francophone and Francophile parents. TFO will be offering daily activities which will be accessible at all times on our IDELLO.ORG platform, BOUKILI.CA and our TV channel. TFO will remain a proud partner of all families through a tailored program of fun, high-quality educational activities and conten t, all of which will be aligned with the curriculum of Ontario.”

 

QUICK FACTS

  • For students who do not have access to a computer, work is underway, in conjunction with school boards, to provide the necessary technology to everyone who needs it.
  • TVO Kids offers educational programing throughout the day for school-aged children. Check out their broadcast schedule here to know what is on and when.
  • Bilingual materials on Learn at Home will continue to be added on a regular basis to provide new and compelling content throughout this period. Other learning programs, such as Ontario’s Virtual Learning Environment, are being further developed to provide enhanced learning options.
  • Mathify provides real-time homework help led by OCT educators for students between grades 6-10, six days a week, including weekdays from 9AM ET – 9PM ET. The Government worked in concert with TVO to expand Mathify beyond the existing grades 7-10, to now include grade six.
  • Eurêka! is another online learning support program that helps students in French language schools from grades 1 to 12 with their school work and their learning.
  • Ontario public schools will be closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020 in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Similarly, private schools and licensed child care centres will also be closed until April 5, 2020.
  • EQAO assessments for the 2019-20 school year have been cancelled, including the Ontario Secondary School Literacy test. The literacy requirement for students graduating in the 2019-20 school year has also been waived.

The Ministry of Education is working with TVO and TFO to roll-out robust education programming on their broadcast channels, with a phased-in approach commencing next week. This iterative process will ensure that Ontario students and families have additional mediums available for engaging with high-quality, made-in-Ontario education resources that support a continuity of learning for students.

EQAO Cancelled & WCDSB Launches #STEAMDAYS (March 19)

Please be aware that the Minister of Education has provided direction to cancel all Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) assessments for the 2019-20 school year. The Minister has also directed that the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) be waived as a graduation requirement, as set out in Section 6 of Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Program Requirements, 2016, for students who are otherwise able to graduate in the 2019-20 school year. These changes provide the conditions to enable students to fulfill graduation requirements in our current context.

The government and WCDSB remain committed to ensuring learning will continue for our students. The Ministry and WCDSB will be posting online learning resources, and we encourage you to stay tuned for more about this resource and other distance learning supports and opportunities.

At WCDSB we are also launching #STEAMDays – a fun and interactive way to keep the learning happening at home as we work our way through the unprecedented COVID-19 shutdown.

Please view the VIDEO to learn more.

In times like these, it is vital for one and all to come together – and #STEAMDays will provide a convenient platform for parents and educators alike to share ideas, resources and fun ways to keep the learning process going.

As ideas are shared, we will gather some of them and post via our website: www.wcdsb.ca/STEAMDays

Please visit on social media via:

Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire #STEAMDays

Facebook: @wcdsb #STEAMDays

Instagram: @waterloocdsb #STEAMDays

Principal Gets Pied in The Face (March 13)

Lastly, A little comic relief for these challenging times. Huge shout out to all the top FUNdraisers from each class who pied me in the face before the break. It was a lot of fun!