Monthly Archives: April 2020

Letter from the Minister of Education……

Dear Parents—
I sincerely hope that you, your children, and your families are staying safe and healthy during this unprecedented time. Over these past weeks, our government has been inspired by you and your children’s eagerness and flexibility in transitioning toward remote learning. We know that this has not been easy, especially with the profound impact COVID-19 has had on your lives and livelihood. The ability to keep our students engaged in their learning journey has been remarkable.

As the Ontario Minister of Education, I am committed to keeping you informed about new developments regarding the impacts of COVID-19, especially when it comes to child care, early learning programs and the status of the current school year. Our government will continue to support you and your children during this difficult period.

Our government’s foremost priority is the safety and well-being of every child and every student, and those who nurture and support them. In considering any options for welcoming students back to an in-class model of learning, our decisions will be based on safety, consistency and the guidance of public health officials. We have been clear and unwavering in our commitment to ensure every measure is taken to protect students’ health and safety before re-entering a classroom.

With that principle in mind, our government has ordered that all public schools in the province will remain closed to students until at least May 31, 2020.

The expert advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table informed our decision. While the modelling that public health experts recently presented shows we are making progress, we are not at a stage in our fight against COVID-19 where students can safely and confidently return to their classrooms.

I know this news is frustrating for many of you. The compassion and commitment of Ontario’s parents have been constant. Since we first announced the suspension of in-person learning on March 12, we have heard from parents across the province on how they are doing their best to encourage continued learning with their children. Parents and families have been an incredible source of comfort as children react uniquely to this global outbreak.

Since the beginning of school closures, our plan for the continuity of learning has evolved significantly and successfully. Most recently, we reintroduced teacher-led learning in the province and students are now being assigned work and resources for continuing their education.

As part of this plan, we have outlined expectations for student work-time in a given week based on learning materials and work assigned by your child’s teacher. I want to emphasize that no student will have their graduation jeopardized by the current outbreak.

Our government has set out the following minimum suggested standard for instruction:
• Kindergarten to Grade 3: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math;
• Grades 4 to 6: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies;
• Grades 7 to 8: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies; and,
• Grades 9 to 12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students, and 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students, with a focus on credit accumulation and graduation.

While it is understandable that there are going to be differences in educational experience during this period, my expectation is that all students will be supported and engaged by their teachers and other education workers. We want to thank educators who have embraced these unusual circumstances to ensure their students continue having every opportunity to excel and achieve their potential. If you have concerns related to the sufficiency of the assigned work or the need for enhanced contact, you are encouraged to reach out to your principal or school board. We want to do everything we can during this outbreak to ensure our students receive a quality learning experience.

To maximize the instructional time for your children, we are converting remaining Professional Activity (PA) and examination days into instructional time. This would ensure that your children remain engaged and learning for the greatest number of days possible during this school year. Perhaps now more than ever, every bit of instructional time matters even if it means just one or two days.

While we try to facilitate instructional time during the school closure period, one of the challenges many families experience is that, even in our digitally-connected age, some students do not have access to the Internet or the technology to access Learn at Home.

I’m pleased to inform you that the Government of Ontario is working with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. To date, over 21,000 iPad devices, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data have been purchased and distributed to families in need by

School boards, with the over $75 million provided by the provincial government through the Grants for Student Needs. In addition, Apple is providing on-going support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home. These 21,000 delivered devices are in addition to the over 200,000 computers and tablets that school boards have provided to students in need during this period.

Rogers is also working with Ontario school boards to provide high-speed, low-cost Internet to subsidized tenants and members of housing partners across Ontario through its Connected for Success program, as well as the Government of Canada Connecting Families initiative.

Partnerships like this – between school boards and tech firms like Rogers Communications and Apple – truly showcase the spirit of Ontario.
While we remain committed to meeting students’ needs in the current school year, our government has already started planning for the 2020-2021 school year. While this school year was certainly unlike anything we have seen before, we need to prepare ourselves for the fact that school may not look or feel the same come September.

With the safety and well-being of your children as our guiding principle, let me assure you that schools, child care centres, and school buses will be required to undergo thorough deep cleaning before being ready to welcome students and early learners back into their physical spaces. Despite the extremely minimal contact risk posed after this length of closure, we want to allow every student to feel safe and confident as they return to school.

In terms of instruction, we will be unveiling our proposed plan for an expanded summer learning program that will enable students to continue their learning through the summer, if desired. While over 100,000 students typically participate in summer learning, we know that many more students may wish to continue their teacher-led learning after this school year formally ends. This proposed plan for expanded summer learning would focus on credit recovery, a new option to upgrade courses, and a focus on gap-closing programs and supports for vulnerable students.

Our government understands that the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in unsettling times for children. We must continue to pay close attention to the emotional and mental health needs of all students, even if there are no immediate signs of distress.

To that end, our government has directed school boards to ensure mental health workers and professional staff engage with students immediately, as needed, in a secure and safe conversation. We want you to know there are many organizations that provide critical support for children facing mental health concerns or distress. For example, Kids Help Phone offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

Child care centres and EarlyON Child and Family Programs continue to be closed until at least May 6, 2020. I can assure you the health and safety of your children will be paramount as we make decisions about re-opening and we support Ontario’s outbreak response and recovery plan.

I want to express my appreciation to the teachers and education workers who have been adapting to these new circumstances and doing their best to deliver learning and supports for our students. While we cannot guarantee what the “new normal” will look like in our child care and education systems, I promise you; no decision will be made that does not answer “yes” to the following question: does this promote the health, safety, and well-being of our children and students?

There is simply no question — and no answer —more important.

Stay safe,
The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

Take-Home Device Support

Please call the device support number below for issues like connecting to the internet or hardware issues with WCDSB-owned devices.  Hours of support are 8AM to 4PM  Monday to Friday.

519-578-3677 Ext:2316

 

Message from WCDSB…….

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

It has been a few weeks since we have connected, so we thought it important to offer you a few important updates as we continue to navigate this time of school closure and distance learning. Let us begin by saying that we truly hope that you and your families are well and that you are finding ways to stay healthy and positive. As an Easter people we pray that the hope of the season is alive in your homes. But these are unsettling times for everyone and we believe it is absolutely OK to feel that you are not OK. We know that each of us has a unique reality and that will position us differently in terms of our ability to walk through this time and to support our children’s learning journey right now.

For the past three weeks we have begun the journey into Educator-led learning and it could not have been done without the tremendous efforts of so many. We are most appreciative to our staff who have worked so hard to put provisions in place so that we could reach all of our students. We hope that every student continues to have contact with their teacher(s) and that each one knows that we care for and value each of them. Your teachers are truly amazing and they are definitely here for you. We will reiterate that our most pressing concern remains student well being – both mentally and physically. As we have said before, it is not “business as usual”, but we do hope that students are connecting with their teachers as this is our “new normal” for the time being.

We wanted to provide you updates on a few different topics of interest to you and your children. Know that this is a rapidly changing landscape and with many uncertainties, and as there are many players to both consult and work with, as well as others who provide us vital direction or information, sometimes full clarity takes a little time.

As always, on our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WCDSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found. We also encourage you to continue to visit our WCDSBPray@Home webpage as well as our FAQ page. You can also follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted. With that said, a few updates:

 Length of the closure:

We are awaiting direction from the government and Ministry of Education on this point. We expect it will be forthcoming soon. While it is unlikely we will be returning to our buildings in the short term, full clarity about our return or what that might look like when we do return, may still be a while in coming.

 Expectations During Distance Learning:

We realize there are different realities for all of our students and all of our educators. For that reason, each student and teacher is held to the guidelines the Ministry has provided for minimum hours. To review what we have shared previously – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity. There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Equity has been a significant consideration in this new landscape as not all children are equally positioned to succeed to the best of their ability when learning from home. We also know that students learning from home can place added pressure on a parent who may be juggling their own work or family related responsibilities. For these reasons, assessment in elementary is taking the form of feedback or formative assessment, rather than grading. Students can benefit and continue progressing through this feedback. For our students in secondary, they will receive both formative and summative assessments – that is feedback and grades, but teachers will be working to support a student’s best outcome and will not be penalized if the current circumstances detract from their ability to succeed. Marks will not drop below that attained on March 13th, when schools were declared closed. There is however every opportunity for a mark to improve, and for learning and achievement to be enhanced.

 Report Cards:

There will be a report card in June for all students and they will contain grades. As noted above, those grades will be largely informed by the marks students had attained prior to March 13th, but there is every opportunity for those grades to improve based on any work submitted during this time of distance learning, if there is evidence of growth and/or improved performance. In the case of graduating students, midterm marks were sent to the Universities and Colleges to assist with post-secondary admission.

 Graduation:

We know that graduation is a significant event in the life of a student and his/her family. For this reason, this has been a difficult decision. Our secondary schools have no option but to postpone graduation ceremonies as a result of venues not being available to us. As you can appreciate secondary graduations are often large events and so they are not easily accommodated in alternate settings. We have made the decision that all of our secondary schools will hold their graduations in the fall. This will in no way impact a student’s ability to actually graduate from high school should they have met the requirements. We are still in the process of finalizing our decision in relation to grade 8 graduations and will communicate that information as soon as a final decision has been achieved.

 Thought Exchange – Your Voice

As most of you will be aware, we recently engaged our stakeholders in an exercise of asking them what questions or concerns they had after one-two weeks of distance learning. Our survey closed on Tuesday April 21st in the evening and we are now starting to unpack that feedback. We are thrilled that you took us up on this invitation. We had just under 2000 participants and approximately 37,000 ratings from all our stakeholders. We know that at a very high level elementary parents are expressing thoughts about the home learning environment and the types of tasks students are assigned, about feedback and assessment, and about equity. Secondary parents are sharing thoughts about the nature of student and educator contact, and also about feedback and assessment, as well as issues related to equity. There are roughly 14 sub-themes in the Thought Exchange feedback that we have identified and there is much more analysis we can do, and it will help to inform our thinking and actions moving forward. A high level report on parent feedback is available at these two links, but much more will be shared in the weeks to come, that will map to themes and the take-aways from the feedback.

Parent/Guardian for an Elementary Student

Parent/Guardian for a Secondary Student

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Waterloo Region Public Health. As a local and global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago. As an Easter people we believe in the power of the resurrection and the promise of new life. Certainly this signs of the season affirm that promise. Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community. #WCDSBTogether.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                          Bill Conway

Director of Education              Chair of the Board

Photos – Graduation – Sibling – etc……..

Dear Families,

If you would like to place an order for the Lifetouch school pictures that were taken earlier this year, go to mylifetouch.ca. Free shipping to your homes will be available until May 31, 2020, when you order on mylifetouch.ca with promo code SMILES. Locate your access credentials on your proof sheet if you have it or call 1-866-457-8212 and Lifetouch will help locate your credentials.

Thank you.

 

Nova Scotia Tragedy….

Here is a resource created for supporting any students or families struggling with the tragic massacre in Nova Scotia.

We also extend our thoughts and prayers to all the people and families affected.

Thank you.

St.Anne School Staff

 

Thank you Mrs. Estebrooks…..

Hello Phoenix Nation,

Today, April 22, is Administrative Professionals day. Please join us in extending out thanks to Mrs. Estebrooks for all she does to support St. Anne school and our awesome community. Mrs. Estebrooks goes above and beyond daily to support or kids, our staff and our families. Her patience and kindness are noticed and appreciated by everyone.

Thank you Mrs. Estebrooks – for being you and all you do!

Plaid Phoenix 7

Need tech support for remote learning from home? We can help.

Hello Families,

We understand that our families and students may have different access to technology and different learning needs. Helping your child learn from home can be a challenge.

Please see our Chromebook Quick Start Guide with tips on how to use your Chromebook and some FAQs.

Using Your iPad:

Please see our iPad Quick Start Guide with tips on how to use your iPad.

Using Your Laptop:

Please see our Laptop Quick Start Guide with tips on how to use your laptop.

Take-Home Device Support:

Please call the device support number below for issues like connecting to the internet or hardware issues with WCDSB-owned devices.  Hours of support are 8AM to 4PM  Monday to Friday.

519-578-3677 Ext:2316

As we progress in this new model of learning from a distance, your child’s teachers will be providing educational material rooted in the curriculum documents and can provide support through various means. As a parent, you may have some concerns about helping your child understand the curriculum when the teacher is not around.

Don’t forget: learning can happen in many ways! Creating an environment where learning is encouraged, explored, and reflected upon is what’s most important for every home.

Access to Student Apps:

Students can go to wcdsb.ca/students and log on using their username (student ID number, followed by the first 3 letters of their last name, followed by @wcdsb.ca – 55555abc@wcdsb.ca) and password.

If students are having trouble logging on, please contact their teacher who will place an IT HelpDesk ticket on their behalf.

Student Online Learning Platforms:

Your child’s teacher will likely be delivering content using an online learning platform, such as Google Classroom or D2L. Parents’ access to these programs can vary. Your child’s teacher will communicate what platform they are using, how to connect with the teacher, and can provide support in accessing these platforms.

 To help your child login to their online learning platform:

To navigate to D2L, go to wcdsb.ca/students

  • Click on My Applications
  • Log in using your WCDSB usual student login and password
  • Click on D2L for single sign-on

To navigate to Google Classroom, go to wcdsb.ca/students

  • Click on My Applications
  • Log in using your WCDSB usual student login and password
  • Click on Google Apps
  • Once Drive is open, click on the waffle (9 dots in tic-tac-toe shape) in the upper right corner
  • Click on Google Classroom icon (labelled “Classroom”)
  • Click on the Classroom indicated by your child’s teacher

How to Login to D2L and Google Classroom – Print Version:

Parent access to their child’s online learning platforms:

Please note that some teachers may be using online platforms in different ways. This means parent communication may be done online, over the phone, or a combination of methods.

Please refer to your child’s teacher for more direction. They will communicate how communication with families will occur, and what parent access may look like depending on the platform they are using and how they have set it up.

For support using D2L, click here.

For support understanding Google Guardian (how parents receive info on Google Classroom from their teachers), click here.

Virtual Learning Commons (VLC)

Students have access to a variety of online content through our WCDSB VLC. Through the VLC, students can access books, research topics, watch videos, and more.

Some of the content on the VLC connects to other apps, which may require a login. That login information is on the homepage of the VLC site – it will open a Google Doc that can only be seen if students are logged in with their WCDSB account.

Green and Red Apps:

You may wonder why WCDSB uses one digital application over another.  WCDSB has a policy on data tools and what it calls green and red sites/ apps.

Green Sites:

Green Sites are those sites that are under contract and managed by the Waterloo District Catholic School Board and/or the Ministry of Education. Inappropriate activities (such as cyber bullying) can be mitigated in a Green Site. Student information (including full student names and assessment data) is safe and secured in the appropriate systems. However, using a Green Site does not take away the onus to maintain personal levels of security over access to your materials and passwords. Green Sites include Google Apps for Education, Desire 2 Learn, Office 365, Edge 4, Career Cruising, Synrevoice, and Compass for Success. For additional information on Green sites, refer to the Guidelines for Using Online Educational Tools (Third Party Apps) (APS017-CX: Appendix C).

Red Sites:

Red Sites are those sites that are not monitored or under contract with the Waterloo Catholic District School Board and/or the Ministry of Education. Because Red Sites are privately owned and operated, the WCDSB cannot guarantee the same level of security as with a Green Site. Staff need to take further precautions when using Red Sites. Inappropriate activities (such as cyber bullying) are difficult to mitigate on a Red Site. For additional information on Red sites, refer to the Guidelines for Using Online Educational Tools (Third Party Apps)(APS017-CX: Appendix C).

Teachers may require parental consent for student use of a Red Site. This information is taken from the WCDSB Administrative Memorandum APS017 Responsible Use of Information Technology and Educational Data.  For more information please see the link.

Thank you

FREE Device and Low-Cost Internet

Hello Families,

Please review the links below for a FREE Device and Low-Cost Internet, if you and your family are in need.

Free Devices:

https://greentec.com/student-application/

http://rcto.ca/programs-rctech-outreach.asp

Low Cost Internet:

This is a federal program that offers low cost Internet and wireless: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/111.nsf/eng/h_00002.html

It offers Internet connectivity for $9.99 plus tax with no additional installation cost.

The Federal Government sent out the letters to Families that qualified a few months ago:

https://www.connecting-families.ca/welcome

Identified Families should have documentation from the government with an identification code.

Thank you,

St. Anne School Staff

Easter Message……

Hello Phoenix Families,

You, your children, your families, and your relationships are more important than anything else at this time. Our staff would like to extend their gratitude for your enthusiastic participation in the first formal week of Remote Learning. It brings us great joy to interact with the students and continue to see them learn and grow.

We have been able to get devices out to many families with the final deployment coming early next week.

Today is Holy Thursday, the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, when he established the sacrament of Holy Communion prior to his arrest and crucifixion. We wish you a restful holiday and many Easter Blessings.

As we journey and navigate this new reality together, there are many challenges, but there is also HOPE.

What if………What if instead of falling “behind”, this group of kids are ADVANCED because of this?

What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read, they love to express themselves in writing.

What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet.

What if they notice the birds and the dates the different flowers emerge, and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower?

What if this generation are the ones to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry, and keep a well run home?

What if they learn to stretch a dollar and to live with less?

What if they learn to plan shopping trips and meals at home.

What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good to share in the small delights of the everyday?

What if they are the ones to place great value on our teachers and educational professionals, librarians, public servants and the previously invisible essential support workers like truck drivers, grocers, cashiers, custodians, logistics, and health care workers and their supporting staff, just to name a few of the millions taking care of us right now while we are sheltered in place?

What if among these children, a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and a simpler life to truly learn what really matters in this life?

What if they are AHEAD?

(Author unknown)

The St. Anne School Staff are thinking of you all…….