This past Thursday, all schools in Don Valley West organized moving tributes to Remembrance Day. I had the privilege and honour of participating in events with students from Hodgson Middle School. We were joined by many senior TDSB staff including our Director of Education, Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Executive Superintendent, Uton Robinson, Hodgson's Superintendent, Andrew Howard, and Ward 8 Trustee, Shelley Laskin. Together we all walked through the neighbourhood and then down to the mausoleum memorial in Mount Pleasant Cemetery where William G. Barker, Canada's most decorated Air Force serviceman, is buried. There, grade 8 students participated in a moving ceremony to memorialize Barker and the servicemen and women who have, over many, many decades, sacrificed so much in order for us to enjoy the many freedoms we do today. In addition, students from Hodgson's media crew club gave interviews to news outlets such as CBC and CTV, and even conducted their own interviews of TDSB guests, including Trustee Laskin, who shared some very special memories and family treasures, including her father's cap and medals from WWII, pictured above.
In Board news, the advocacy motion I wrote about in my last update, calling for a return to semesters, passed unanimously at Board on Wednesday evening. This means that our chair will be sending a letter to the Minister of Education in the coming days calling for a variety of things that include, but are not limited to, the ability of boards to make local decisions around certain school practices such as secondary timetable schedules (in this case, a return to traditional semesters, for TDSB), and a renewed call for adding the covid vaccine to the schedule of vaccines needed for students to attend school for those currently age-eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. We will also be asking the provincial government to release pandemic funding for the second half of the year as soon as possible so we can plan appropriately, knowing we can continue to ensure our schools remain as safe as possible for our students and staff.
Below you will find a number of updates that will hopefully be of interest. Of particular note, I do wish to draw your attention to my next Community Coffee morning coming up on November 24. At that meeting, we will hold elections for open positions on PIAC (the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee of the Board) and FSLCAC (the French as a Second Language Community Advisory Committee).
Finally, please also note that registration has now opened for the 15th Annual PIAC Parent Conference - Ready, Set Engage: Bridging the Gap. This is shaping up to be a terrific program of events that will include keynote speakers including our very own Director of Education, Colleen Russell-Rawlins. To learn more and register, read on!
COFFEE MORNING & PIAC/FSLCAC ELECTIONS!
My Community Coffee meetings are informal gatherings where parents and constituents are invited for a round table-style discussion of information sharing, best practices and interesting conversation related to education in our ward. We often have superintendents and sometimes even principals who drop by, so these are fun and engaging events!
PIAC PARENT CONFERENCE Nov.27/28: REGISTRATION OPEN
Please join PIAC's 15th Annual Parent Conference on November 27 & 28.
This is a 2-day virtual event, with speakers & workshops & networking focused on bridging gaps in our schools in Mental Health, Parent Engagement, and School Councils. Engage with others from across the TDSB as we learn and share best practices on reconnecting mentally and socially with ourselves, our students, schools, and communities.
With inspiring Keynote Speakers Colleen Russell-Rawlins & Dwayne Matthews.
Requests for Switching Between Learning Models
All TDSB students completed a Selection Form for in-person or virtual learning for the 2021-22 school year. There will be one opportunity to switch between in-person and virtual learning, in February 2022.
To plan ahead for students to switch between in-person and virtual learning for February 2022, families and students requesting a change will be asked to complete the Switch Form. Families and students who do not wish to make a change do not need to complete a form.
While we cannot guarantee that all requests for a switch can be met, it is our goal to accommodate as many as possible based on available programs and space (e.g. French Immersion, Extended French, Specialized Programs, Alternative Schools, other limited circumstances).
Elementary: The Switch Form for elementary students will be open between November 26 to December 3. Families and students who do not wish to make a change do not need to complete a form. Classes will reflect changes due to switches beginning on February 22, 2022.
Secondary: We are waiting for data from the secondary student check-in survey and the secondary teacher ThoughtExchange to inform plans for Semester 2. Details will be shared with families and students so they can make an informed decision regarding switch requests. Semester 2 classes will reflect changes due to switches beginning on February 3, 2022. Dates and further information regarding the Switch Form for secondary students will be confirmed shortly.
Destreaming Grade 9 Courses for the 2022-23 School Year
Yesterday, the Ministry of Education shared with school boards that beginning September 2022, all Grade 9 subjects will be offered in one stream, including Science, English, Canadian geography and French as a second language. The memo provided boards with the course codes and descriptions to be used in course registration processes and materials for the 2022-23 school year.
As part of our Multi-Year Strategic Plan, the TDSB has supported the majority of Grade 9 and 10 students to study academic-level courses for a number of years.
The Ministry also noted it will be releasing an addendum for the Grade 10 math courses to support the transition from de-streamed math to current math courses. At this time, the Locally Developed Compulsory Credit course policy remains unchanged.
2021-22 School Year Operational Updates
As the school year continues, a number of operational updates have been made, informed by both Toronto Public Health (TPH) and consideration by the Operational Guidelines Committee who listens directly to what schools are experiencing and asking about. All principals in the TDSB follow the same operational guidelines although they may look slightly different from one school to another. There are also separate guidelines for elementary and secondary schools. Some recent updates include:
- Reopening of school pools, supported by specific reopening guidelines to ensure pools provide a safe physical literacy space for students led by the school team including administration, aquatic instructors and teachers.
- Now that school routines are established and with the winter months approaching, the responsible use of student lockers is permitted in both elementary and secondary schools.
- Hosting curriculum nights and parent-teacher interviews virtually.
- Updating Optional Program and Materials Fee information. Schools may charge activity and course fees for curriculum-based and co-curricular activities beyond what is necessary to meet the learning expectations. However, these costs should be kept at a minimum and waived in order to: align with the TDSB’s commitments to equity, anti-racism, anti-oppression and Truth and Reconciliation; and ensure that all TDSB students experience equity of access to these enhancements to programming.
High School Open Houses and Information Nights
To help students and families make an informed decision when choosing a school, TDSB schools will host virtual open houses and information sessions (live or pre-recorded) for parents/guardians and students between November and January. Learn everything you need to know about our incredible variety of schools, programs and courses.
Please note that some schools are hosting “live” virtual open houses that families can join in real time, during the specified date and time. Please check this page regularly, as schools will continue to post information about virtual open house dates/times and available pre-recorded information sessions. You can view the prerecorded sessions at any time by clicking the link provided. If you have questions about a specific school or open house, please contact the school directly for more information.
School Council Anti-Oppression and Equity Grants
The grants application will open on Monday, November 15, 2021 and close on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. For further details, School Councils should visit: the Grants Page.
The School Council grants is one of the initiatives supported by the Parents Partnership Fund - Parent Reaching Out Grant.
TDSB Student Senate Elecctions & Information Meeting – Nov. 15, 4:30-5:30pm
Interested students in Grades 7 – 11 are invited to an information meeting to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of Student Senate Executive, Student Senate mandate and the upcoming election. Students will also have an opportunity to ask questions.
This meeting will be held via Zoom and will be hosted by Indigenous Student Trustee Isaiah Shafqat and Student Trustees Evan Woo and Jyoti Dadhich.
The Zoom Link will soon be posted on the Student Senate Election webpage and sent directly to students in Grades 7-11 via email. The Student Senate Election (2022-23) will be held on Jan 20 and 21, 2022. Interested students are asked to apply online by Nov. 25, 2021. For more information, please visit www.tdsb.on.ca/High-School/TDSB-Student-Senate/Student-Senate-Election.
TDSB Winter Clothing Drive
One in every three children lives in poverty right here in our city and too many children come to school without proper clothing to keep them warm during the winter months. In addition, many TDSB students are new to Canada and this may be their first time experiencing a Canadian winter.
Our need for winter outerwear is greater this year. Canada is welcoming newcomer families from Afghanistan and the TDSB is welcoming many of these newly arrived students into our schools. The newcomer students are adjusting to their first Canadian winter and can benefit from your generous support. The students need proper winter outerwear such as coats, boots, mitts and hats to be able to attend school. This year’s Winter Clothing Drive will run from October 2021 to the end of February 2022.
The Drive also accept new winter outwear items. Tax receipts are available for these donations. Contact the Business Development department at BusinessDevelopment@tdsb.on.ca for more information about how to donate new outwear items.
TDSB Student & Parent Census - Spring 2022
The Student & Parent Census is coming Spring 2022!
The TDSB Student Census is a confidential and voluntary survey that asks important identity-based questions as well as questions about experiences inside and outside of school. Students in grades 4 to 12 complete the census themselves, while parents complete the census for students in kindergarten to grade 3.
Since 2006, TDSB schools have been collecting identity-based data through the Student Census to identify and remove systemic barriers which may limit student achievement and well-being. Since 2018, this work has been encouraged for all school boards in Ontario under the Provincial Anti-Racism Act. In 2023, this work will be mandated for all school boards.
By gathering this important information through our Student Census every 4 to 5 years, school communities are able to determine what is working well in our system, where change is required, and where supports should be focused. This data can be instrumental in highlighting the various forms of systemic oppression and complex issues of human rights that impact students and families in the TDSB.
To build Census 2022, the TDSB will be asking communities for input on question topics in the fall. Later on, we will be providing opportunities for communities to collaborate and participate in data analysis and interpretation.
Read more about the Parent and Student Census.
Early French Immersion Application Closes November 26!
- starting 2022, Early French Immersion begins in JK.
- for the 'bridge year 2022/2023 only, students can start French Immersion in both JK and SK.
- more information on the tdsb.on.ca/french web page, click: Early French Immersion, or check the PowerPoint Presentation.
- Two more Virtual Web Chats are held November 15 (10-11am) and November 23 (7-8pm). Previous webchats are still available to (re)view.
- Ongoing Consultations: Specialized Schools & Programs; Parent & Community Involvement
Two important consultations (see the latest Policy Review Schedule) continue:
- Parent and Community Involvement Policy: To establish a framework for building and supporting parent and community involvement in the Toronto District School Board.Reviewing P023 – Parent and Community Involvement Policy. Learn more, and share your voice, at www.tdsbengage.ca.
- Specialized Schools and Programs Policy: To affirm the Board’s commitment to providing focused specialized programming in both local schools and in district-wide specialized schools or programs, and to improving access for all students to these programs. Draft New Policy, Video, learn more at www.tdsb.on.ca/High-School/Secondary-Program-Review, and or e-mail email@example.com.
NEW: Online consultation webinars are scheduled for:
- Thursday, November 18, 2021, 7:00-9:00 pm
- Monday, November 22, 2021, 1:00-3:00 pm
- Monday, November 22, 2021, 7:00-9:00 pm
NEW: fill out the online survey.
High School News
Semesters: We are awaiting a decision from the Ministry of Education whether the modified semester model can be changed to a regular semester system. We expect a decision to be made in December.
TDSB e-Learning: Semester 2 course registration for TDSB e-Learning starts December 6 at 10:00 AM and closes February 11, 2022. Classes are known to fill up very quickly). For more information and to see course offerings, click here.
For Graduates and families:
- The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) requirement (the 'grade 10 Literacy test') has been waived for 2021-2022 Graduates this year.
- Community involvement hours have been reduced from 40 to 20 hours for graduates this year. Students are encouraged to participate in virtual community involvement opportunities (Ontario Volunteer Centre Network or Volunteer Toronto)
- A Post-Secondary Information Session was held on October 6. It can be (re)viewed on the Parent and Community Engagement Office (PCEO) YouTube Channel: here.
- Director's Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Awards Applications
- Awarding $1,000 to eights GSA's from across the TDSB that operated during the 2019/2020 and 2020-21 academic years, and four more awards for GSAs operating during the 2021-22 academic school year.
- Application deadline is Friday, December 3, 2021 at 4 p.m, at GSAAwards@tdsb.on.ca. Click for: full application details.
School Councils / Parent & Community Engagement information
The October Parent and Community Engagement Office (PCEO) Update to PIAC (Parent Involvement Advisory Committee) included a lot of useful information and resources for parents and school councils to use, including:
- 2021-2022 School Council Interim Operations (elections, meetings, bylaws, fundraising)
- Parent Reaching Out Grant Allocation for 2021-2022
- School Council Resource Tools (link to website and school council tech support webpage with information on school council access to Zoom, School Messenger, Email, and Wifi)
- Interim Expectations for Parent/Family Engagement in the School Improvement Process
- School Council Training 2021-22
The remaining training sessions from the Parent & Community Engagement Office (PCEO) are Tue. Nov.16 (6:30pm) on Leading School Council, and Thu.Nov.18 (10am), Tue.Nov.23 (6pm), and Thu.Nov.25 (6pm) on School Council Bylaws.
More information available: here.
- TDSB Hub
tdsbHUB.ca is a collaboration between the Toronto District School Board Community Support Workers team (CSWs) and the families, students and communities that they work with. CSWs work with Model Schools (app. 150 of TDSB's 500+ schools), but most of the resources and events offered are useful for, and available to, everybody. The website featuresa an extensive Calendar with parent/caregiver & community events, School Council information, Parent/Caregiver Academy (events), TDSB Connects (school board information & resources), Community Resources (find 211 resources based on your school/community location), and more
- Past Parent Events
- Parents as Partners Conference: the Keynote Addresses to the Parents & Caregivers as Partners Conference (held on October 16 & 17) can now be (re)viewed on the YouTube Channel of the TDSB Parent & Community Engagement Office (PCEO). More information on this Annual Conference is at www.ParentsAsPartners.ca. Recordings of workshops are to be made available as well
- Islamic Heritage Month Community Cooking Event: If you weren’t able to join for the TDSB IHM 2021 Community Cooking Event with MasterChef finalist Reem Ahmed & City TV Host Maleeha Sheikh, catch it on the TDSB Islamic Heritage Month YouTube Channel: here.
- Covid-19 Pop-up vaccine clinics
Check out the Toronto East Health Network/Michael Garron hospital website for vaccine clinics this coming week. They offer first and second doses by walk-in to everyone born in 2009 or earlier (i.e. turning age 12 or older this year). Among the nearby locations that have regular clinics, are: Thorncliffe Park Community Hub (45 Overlea Blvd) and Eglinton Square Shopping Centre (Eglinton & Vic Park - enter next to Hudson's Bay)
- Vaccinations for 5-11 year olds
The approval process forvaccinations for the 5-11 year olds is underway. Toronto Public Health (TPH) recently announced a plan to start vaccinations as soon as approval from Health Canada is issued. That is now expected in 1-2 weeks.
NEW: Toronto Public Health is hosting a webinar for parents and guardians about the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11. Please see the flyer from Toronto Public Health for more information. Presented by Dr. Vinita Dubey, TPH Associate Medical Officer of Health, the webinar will cover: information on COVID-19 vaccines in children; Facts about vaccines and fertility; COVID-19 vaccination and schools; Tips and approaches to address vaccine hesitancy.
No registration is required. The next session date is: Monday, November 15, 2021 - 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Click here to join online
Mental Health & Well-Being Supports
TDSB Professional Support Services offers virtual drop-in hours for parents and caregivers to discuss strategies to help support the mental health and well-being of your child.
There are sessions open to all (Tuesdays 10-11am; Thursdays 7-8pm) and a special drop-in for parents/caregivers of students with special/complex needs (Wednesdays 7-8pm).
November is Hindu Heritage Month
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is proud to recognize Hindu Heritage Month during the month of November as the Board of Trustees voted to pass a motion in April 2018 to mark this time.
On December 8th, 2016, the Province of Ontario passed the Hindu Heritage Month Act by declaring that the month of November in each year is proclaimed as Hindu Heritage Month. November is an opportunity to celebrate the Hindu way of life, examine its impact and contributions to the world culture, and recognize values which promote compassion, tolerance, and inclusion.
The theme this year selected by the TDSB Hindu Heritage Month Volunteer Planning Committee is Sri Rama: Epitome of love, compassion, duty, and service. Read more about Sri Rama, who lived thousands of years ago, was the 7th avatar or reincarnation of Vishnu and see the winning images from our Hindu Heritage Month Poster Contest. We’re also delighted to share with you a video on the Ramayana. Please follow us on Twitter: @tdsb_HHM
November is Indigenous Education Month
November is Indigenous Education Month at the Toronto District School Board. It is important to centre First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, contemporary realities and voices. For classrooms across the TDSB, this is an opportunity to learn from Indigenous perspectives on treaties, Indigenous leadership, achievements, resistance and creativity.
Truth and Reconciliation is a guiding principle at the TDSB. Throughout November, students, staff and community members will engage in meaningful opportunities to learn together on our shared histories and to build stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
Days of Significance for Indigenous Education Month:
- Treaties Recognition Week, November 1 - 5;
- International Inuit Day, November 7;
- Indigenous Veterans Day, November 8;
- Louis Riel Day, November 16.
The Urban Indigenous Education Centre will be hosting a number of events to support students and staff to learn from Indigenous people. Guests will include: Elder Dr. Duke Redbird, Elder Naulaq LeDrew, Jason Madden, Tasha Spillet, Dr. Pamela Palmater, Ange Loft, Tauni and Albie Sheldon, Traditional Knowledge Practitioner - Clayton Shirt, Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse, Tanya Talaga, David A. Robertson, Shanese Steele, James Jones - Notorious Cree, Alyssa and Conlin Delbaere-Sawchuk, Jean Teillet, and Theola Ross.
Follow @UIEC_TDSB on Twitter for updates on Indigenous Education Month at the TDSB.
2021-2022 School Year Calendar
The last day of class is June 30 (for elementary students) or June 29 (for secondary students).
There are no classes for students on the dates listed below (first next Board wide PA day is November 19).
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns!
Have a wonderful week,
If you notice anything at a school that concerns you, please call the TDSB Security Call Centre (416) 395-4620 and the Toronto Police - non-emergencies can be reported by calling 416-808-2222.