The first few weeks of school have been hectic, stressful, and frustrating for parents/guardians, students, and staff at the TDSB. As you may know, over the summer staff and trustees worked hard to come up with solid plans that ensured a safe and organized return to school. Doug Ford and his Provincial Government have caused these delays and shortfalls. I share your frustration and will continue to advocate for every family across our ward.
Some families still haven't even had an opportunity to start school yet due to teacher shortages caused by an increase in the number of families who have opted for virtual school instead of in-class out of fear for their health and wellbeing. Over 77,000 students have registered for virtual school, an increase of over 15,000 students (the count at the beginning of September, board-wide, was just over 60,000).
Despite these challenges, we continue to work hard to have all students engaged and learning. As our Interim Director, Carlene Jackson, tweeted this week: Please remember that the pandemic is weighing heavily on many people in different ways, so we must remember to display compassion, patience & kindness to one another as we are all in this together and have the same goal – to keep students, staff & our TDSB community safe.
This past week Toronto Public Health announced two outbreaks at TDSB schools (not in Ward 10).
An outbreak is declared when there are at least two confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 14 day period and with a link to a school setting.
Mason Road JPS
Toronto Public Health has requested that it be temporarily closed Monday, September 28 to Friday, October 2, while they continue their investigation.
Glen Junior Public School
The two students infected have been isolated to recover from their illness. One teacher, and two class cohorts, one of 17 students, and another of 18 students have been sent home to self-isolate for 14 days.
With case counts rising rapidly again, it is important that you take care of both your mental health and physical wellbeing. Stress, anxiety, and depression can affect us more than we express. Have conversations about this in your household and watch these helpful videos together. Here is a webpage with a list of mental health and wellbeing resources.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you (parents/guardians, teachers, support staff, caretaking staff, and our students) for your resilience and patience during these very stressful and difficult times. You are all doing an incredible job with the resources you have. I'm here for you if you need someone to talk to.
Wishing our Jewish community an easy fast during Yom Kippur. G’mar Chatimah Tovah!
Yours in Service,
Elementary Virtual School Updates
This is an update to parents/guardians and families in the TDSB Elementary Virtual School to provide information for families/students who are already assigned a teacher and connected to a Brightspace classroom, and also for families/students not yet connected.
Parents/Students Currently Without a Teacher Assignment
Work has continued through the weekend to hire teachers — an issue being faced by a number of school boards in the area — and have classrooms up and running by mid-to-late next week. Currently, we are looking to hire approximately 150 teachers between English and French Immersion/Extended French programs. We are making progress and anticipate that all positions will be filled over the next few days. All teachers are provided with two days of Brightspace training and will have their virtual classrooms up and running mid-to-late next week.
Please continue to access the independent learning resources webpage where more resources, activities and live teacher-led videos have been added for the second week.
As a reminder, if you are experiencing account and/or password issues, please access support by completing this form. Once the information has been verified, login and password information for your child will be emailed to you. Additionally, you can access Brightspace support 24 hours a day.
Principal Contact Information
We understand that you may have questions or concerns and would like to speak directly with someone at your child’s Virtual Elementary School. Please find Principal contact information by grade below.
Learning Centre 4
Virtual School Teacher Absences
Please be aware that, at this time, it may not be possible to provide a replacement teacher to cover classes when the classroom teacher is absent. Students are encouraged to complete work that has been assigned by the classroom teacher or are encouraged to access the available resources and videos on the Asynchronous Learning Activities webpage.
Deadline to Switch Between Elementary Virtual School and In-Person Learning
As a reminder, 4 p.m. on September 30 is the deadline for elementary students to request a switch between the Virtual School and in-person (in-school) learning. Families who would like to request a switch from the Virtual School to in-person learning must complete the Virtual School Opt-Out online form before the deadline. Learn more about switching between the Virtual School and in-person learning, including upcoming key dates. Please note: For families who do not yet have a teacher assigned or have not yet connected with a teacher in Virtual School, please be assured that the TDSB will proceed with assigning your child a teacher and class as soon as possible, as noted above.
Secondary Virtual School Course Registration
Additional courses have been created and are restricted to Virtual Secondary School students who have fewer than two (2) courses in Quad 1.
Session Dates: Monday, October 5 to Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Time: Monday to Friday from 3:30 to 6 p.m. (includes a two-hour synchronous/live session with a teacher)
Deadline to Register: September 30
Updated Mask Guide
In response to rising confirmed cases of COVID -19 in Toronto, the GTA and elsewhere in Ontario, health agencies, and provincial and municipal governments are reviewing and updating health and safety measures in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus.
The TDSB is also reviewing its health and safety measures and making changes where needed. The TDSB’s Mask Guidelines have been updated for the above reasons and in light of confirmed cases among school staff and students. The updated guidelines also provide additional direction to school administrators and superintendents regarding mask exemption requests. You can also visit our Mask/Face Covering Required webpage.
Below is a summary of the key changes to the Mask Guide:
1. Clarification that parents/guardians who are on school property temporarily (e.g., drop off/pick up) must wear masks and physically distance which responds to situations that have been noted where during drop-offs and pickup parents are coming into close contact with other parents and students.
2. New requirements: (1) Use of face shields (or approved face covering) as an interim measure while mask exemption request is being assessed; and (2) requirement applies retroactively to students/staff who already have an exemption pending reassessment (note: if evidence of the individual’s medical condition/disability is clear and undisputed, Principals/managers are not required to reassess the exemption).
3. Tightened requirement that those who are able to, but choose not to wear a mask - will not be allowed in the school/building.
4. Clarified that mask exemption requests are not to be automatically granted.
5. Clarified our ability to challenge exemption requests and expressly state that mask exemptions are subject to an undue hardship assessment. In other words, even with a valid exemption, in-person attendance may not be allowed if the risk to the health and safety of others outweighs the needs of the person with the exemption.
6. Clarification on the mask requirements for staff and students who wear a hijab, niqab or burka.
7. Modified subheading to clarify that masks with exhalation (breathable) valves or openings are not “approved” for use (the previous subheading stated they were not “recommended” for use).
8. Broadened the “no harassment, bullying, or discrimination” statement to also protect those who are “implementing or enforcing” the Mask Guide (e.g., Principals, Superintendents, any staff member, students, parents).
9. New Appendix C which provides additional information on the human rights accommodation process
Orange Shirt Day
Orange Shirt Day is an annual event that started in 2013 to recognize the legacy of the Residential Schools system for First Nations, Métis and Inuit families and communities. It is a show of support and understanding of the history of the Canadian school system, which impacts many First Nations, Métis and Inuit families today. The phrase “Every Child Matters” reminds everyone that children are such an important and integral part of our communities and that they are our future generations of change-makers. By wearing orange, we have an opportunity to bring awareness to the history of Residential Schools and to stand up against other injustices that may impact our children/students.
This year, Orange Shirt Day falls on Wednesday, September 30.
Fund Our Schools
Toronto schools urgently need $4 billion in repairs and the pandemic has exposed how school disrepair, over-crowded classrooms, and poor ventilation systems are not only compromising students’ learning environments but are public health hazards as well. Back-to-school has become unsafe and scary for students, educators, and families.
Our underfunded schools disproportionately impact marginalized communities. With added pressures from the pandemic, many wealthier families are pulling their children from unsafe public schools and opting for private options; meanwhile, lower-income families are left choosing between their family’s health and their children’s education.
When developers sell new housing, they are profiting from our investments in public infrastructure. For decades, they have been able to avoid investing in the same communities they are profiting from due to a regulatory loophole in provincial law.
Because of this loophole, Toronto's students have lost out on hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to update and repair their schools. Meanwhile, for the Catholic school board this loophole has already been closed and has meant the Toronto Catholic District School Board has received over $200 million from EDCs since 1998. All school boards in the city should be able to collect these funds, so all students have the same opportunities.
At the TDSB, we are in the process of recruiting our next Director of Education. This process is being led by a Trustee Director Search Committee, in partnership with Mandrake, an executive search firm.
The Trustee Director Search Committee is made up of 11 elected trustees. This committee was selected to represent the four different Learning Centres; provide oversight, guidance and direction in the selection of the new Director of Education; and represent the TDSB and all of its stakeholders. This committee will also interview and select candidates for final approval for hire.
Mandrake has been retained as an external executive search firm to run and manage the recruitment process. Their role is to provide advice to and represent the interests of the Trustee Director Search Committee. They will also play a role in interviewing and assessing interested and qualified candidates.
Various TDSB stakeholders will have the opportunity to participate in an electronic survey that will inform the specific job criteria, accomplishments, experience and background that will be used to create the candidate profile for recruitment. Stakeholders include leadership staff, trustees, union and federated leaders, Community Advisory Committees, the Special Education Advisory Committee and the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee. Trustees will also be reaching out to community members in each of the four Learning Centres. This information will also inform the candidate profile for the next Director of Education.
I hope you will be able to join us at the final of three public delegation sessions to hear from the public on the required Career Experience and Accomplishments and Leadership Attributes and Personal Values for the next Director of Education.
October 1, 2020
Register by email or phone:
Email: [email protected]