It was wonderful to connect with many of you on Wednesday morning at my Ward 11 Coffee Morning. The meeting notes from that event will be posted to my webpage next week.
I know many parents are wondering two things: when will schools be opening again, and what will next year look like? Unfortunately, I don't have any clarity on either of those two questions.
At this point in time, the case counts in Toronto are still very high and there is no indication or discussion regarding back to in-person learning this school year, but we continue to hope there will be a signigicant change in the numbers that may allow us to return. We are encouraged by the increasing rates of vaccination in our city and hope we will see major changes in the coming weeks. We know how important in-person learning is to so many families, and we look forward to a time where we can all be in the same physical spaces together.
Regarding next year, staff and trustees are awaiting funding and direction from the Ministry of Education. In a normal year, we usually have funding and direction provided for us around March Break. This year, we have experienced a delay yeet again, and are still awaiting this information. We have been told to budget as though this was a regular school year (i.e. back to 2019 funding levels) and schools have issued staffing for next year based on that and on our collective agreements. Realistically though, we of course know that the pandemic will not be completely resolved by September. The Ministry has indicated that our funding will be announced soon, and once that happens, I will be sure to communicate.
Online learning permanent?
Looking to the future, however, we do have some glimpses of the government's long-term vision for education. Many of you may have read in the press that the government is considering more choice for parents outside of public education, specifically by making online learning a permanent option for parents of children from kindergarten all the way to grade 12 (not be confused with a course a year through e-learning in high school already happening; this is full-time online learning through a third-party agency being considered). The information on government consultations with education stakeholders regarding these proposed changes remains embargoed (meaning staff are unable to discuss the specifics publicly until given a go ahead from the Ministry of Education), but anyone wishing to learn more can find relevant information published by the CBC here. Seeing as our survey data from students indicates that the vast majority feel they learn better in person and feel isolated during the pandemic, the government's direction to move to make online learning a permanent option is most concerning. As an advocate of public education, I firmly believe that our approach to improving education and achievement outcomes for students should be based on data and best practices. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Chair Alexander Brown recently also wrote a Letter to the Minister of Education on the subject of remote learning.
As the coffee morning group chatted, one of the subjects that came up was the availability of vaccine information and outreach. As a follow-up, please check out a helpful Covid-19 Vaccine Q&A put together by Health Access Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Health Centre (FHC), and The Neighbourhood Organization (TNO).
As many of you will be aware, TDSB trustees and staff have been working very hard for many months now to ensure our staff have access to vaccines in a timely manner. I am pleased to report that as of this week, our staff have issued 44,500 letters to TDSB education workers to enable them to get their vaccinations. Currently, these opportunities are restricted to education workers who live in or currently work in hotspot areas, as well as to all special education staff. However, it does appear that as of the week of May 3rd, all education workers will be able to make appointments for vaccinations. With the increasing availability of vaccines, it is important we continue to advocate not just for staff but also for eligible students, such as those 16 and up. As we look to getting back to as normal as possible in our schools, vaccination is a key ingredient.
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup
Turning to something a little more personal, there is more information below on a joint initiative between the Jewish Heritage Committee and the Asian Heritage Committee centering around the book Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup (picture above). This one is close to my heart, as part of this project included a zoom cooking event with two of my three children, their grandmothers and two other trustee colleagues at the TDSB, focussing on the importance of culture and also contemplating what brings them together. Being a part of a family that joins Jewish and Taiwanese cultures together, this project has a deep resonance for me, exemplifying the multicultural beauty and complexity of experience that my children and so many others in the TDSB navigate each and every day. I am excited to see how our schools and younger learners engage in this initiative, and encourage everyone to read more about it below (and watch the video if you feel inclined!).
Believe it or not, it had been my goal to keep this newsletter on the shorter side. That said, I have included below an abundance of important information, including flyers and registration for two important community meetings (regarding the Hodgson addition project and the Yonge-Eglinton Program Area Review), notice of a parent/caregiver conference happening this weekend, and several other updates. So, please find a comfy spot and read on!
Hodgson MS New Addition - Community Meeting - May 3, 2021
The Toronto District School Board invites parents, guardians and caregivers of Hodgson Middle School, Davisville Jr Public School, Eglinton Jr Public School, Maurice Cody Jr Public School, and Oriole Park Jr Public School as well as members of the neighbourhood community to a virtual community meeting on Monday, May 3, from 7pm, regarding the plans for the addition at Hodgson MS.
This is your opportunity to obtain information on the new addition and provide feedback. Board staff, Trustee Shelley Laskin (Ward 8/Eglinton - Lawrence and Toronto-St. Paul's) and I will be present to listen and answer questions.
A follow-up meeting is scheduled for: Monday, May 17th, 6:30 - 8:00 PM.
Yonge-Eglinton Program Area Review - Community Meeting, May 4, 2021
The second phase of the Yonge-Eglinton Program Area Review (PAR) is considering how to balance enrolment within local elementary schools in the Yonge-Eglinton area. It will include consideration of the Bannockburn building (a TDSB building currently leased to a private school) to resolve ongoing accommodation pressures. The outcome may affect Eglinton Junior Public School and John Fisher Juior Public School. The Program Area Review Team (PART) consists of staff, trustees, school principals, and parent representatives.
Please also see 'Frequently Asked Questions' which will be updated periodically throughout this process to address feedback received.
More Information about the preceding Area Reviews for this area is available on the TDSB website (select 'Program Area Review', followed by '2018 Bedford-Eglinton Jr-Glenview-Hodgson-John Fisher' and/or '2015 Yonge/Eglinton'). Please note that those previous reviews involved a large number of schools. The current review focuses on Eglinton JPS, John Fisher JPS, and the Bannockburn property.
Program Area Review Report - Armour Heights PS, St Andrew's MS & Ledbury Park
The Board of Trustees recently made a decision regarding this review: Board Decision Letter - April 23, 2021. Whereas most of the included schools are outside Don Valley West, the catchment area for St. Andrew's Middle School in Ward 11 is slightly affected.
The process is explained in the TDSB Program Area Review Fact Sheet. If you have any specific questions, please check with your school principal.
Asian and Jewish Heritage Committees Present: Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup
During the month of May, the TDSB celebrates Asian and Jewish Heritage Months. As part of the events, the TDSB’s Asian Heritage Committee and Jewish Heritage Committee are pleased to present Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup.
Meet Sophie who plays dress-up with her Grandma Ellie and loves her Bubbe's Jewish chicken soup, made with kreplach. She also paints with her Grandma Nancy and loves Nai Nai's Chinese chicken soup, with wonton. But don't tell Bubbe and Nai Nai that their soups are the same! In Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup, Sophie solves the problem of which chicken soup is best, bringing her whole family together for a tasty surprise!
Targeted at students in Kindergarten-grade 3, it has been described as a “very sweet book and a perfect early lesson on diversity.” As Sophie says in the story about her grandmothers’ soups - “a little different; a lot the same”.
For the month of May, we are pleased to offer Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup as part of TDSB’s Virtual Library. You’ll even find Bubbe and Nai Nai’s recipes at the end!
We hope everyone in the TDSB family will participate and submit their own chicken soup recipes!
Breaking Barriers by Changing Biases: PIAC Spring Event: May 1 & May 2
Are you looking to make your School Council more diverse? Thinking about expanding your school’s Equity Committee work? Want to know more about how to tackle Anti-Racism for your School Council? Work on making your school community more inclusive?
Please join PIAC (the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee) and TDSB staff for an informative and inspiring event, as we unpack how families and School Councils can support our TDSB community in Equity, Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression initiatives.
This event, titled 'Breaking Barriers by Changing Biases' is held this weekend, both Saturday & Sunday May 1st & May 2nd, 2021, via Zoom, from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm.
More information and registration is available at bit.ly/PIAC2021SpringConference.
Let's Talk Vaccines!
(PCEO/PIAC Conversation series: May 6)
The next offering from the TDSB's Parent & Community Engagement Office (PCEO) and PIAC's "Conversation Series" is coming up on May 6th!
"Let's Talk Vaccines!" will feature Dr. Vinita Dubey (Associate Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto) and Nicole Welch (Director & Chief Nursing Officer), City of Toronto) who will tell us more about vaccines and answer questions.
This event is running Thursday, May 6, 2021, 6:30pm - 7:30pm.
The Human Library Podcast: Partnering with Community Through the Arts (NEW!)
The TDSB Human Library: Conversations around Equitable, Anti-Racist, and Anti-Oppressive Practice is a podcast series on topics related to Equity, Anti-Racism, and Anti-Oppression in education. Each 15 minute podcast invites listeners to critically reflect on their pedagogy, reimagine engagement, and partner with the community to improve student well-being and achievement.
Episode 4: RANDELL ADJEI - Partnering with Community Through the Arts (audio, transcript)
Episode 1: NATASHA HENRY - African Canadian Experiences and the Curriculum (audio, transcript)
Episode 2: GEN LING CHANG - Understanding and Addressing Anti-Asian Racism (audio, transcript)
Episode 3: TANITIÃ MUNROE - Centering Black LGBTQ+ Students in the Classroom (audio, transcript)
Some of the topics and enduring understandings that will be explored in the series include: African Canadian experiences and the Curriculum; Understanding and Addressing Anti-Asian Racism; Centring Black LGBTQ+ students in the Classroom; Supporting Positive Racial Identity in Early Years; and Understanding Judaism and Jewish Cultures.
The schedule for the upcoming weeks is as follows:
- May 5 - 4:30pm - Program & School Services Committee
- May 12 - 4:30pm - Finance Committe
- May 19 - 4:30pm - Planning & Priorities Committee
- May 26 - 4:30pm - Regular Board Meeting
To see links to agendas of all Standing Committee and Board meetings, including those listed above, please click here.
All Committee meetings allow any member of the public to submit a delegation either in writing or in person (currently virtually). More information about the process is on the Delegation Process web page.
The TDSB reviews policies on a 4-year cycle (or as needed based on changes to legislation or linked policies). Staff are currently seeking public feedback on the following policies:
DEADLINES TODAY (!) :
- Human Rights Policy (P031)
Deadline: April 30, 2021 - Draft Revised Policy
Objective: To protect, promote and advance the human rights of all TDSB members to learn, function and work in an equitable, accessible, respectful and inclusive environment free of discrimination and harassment on the basis of the prohibited grounds of discrimination specified in this Policy and protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code. To enhance the capacity of the TDSB to meet its positive human rights obligations, including to proactively identify, address, and prevent all forms of discrimination, including individual and systemic discrimination.
For more information: check out the live Consultation session organized last week by PIAC (the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee) and the TDSB Human Rights Office with information about the Policy/Procedures, about the proposed changes, and to ask for everybody's input. The Zoom Webinar of this Consultation is availble on the PCEO YouTube Channel (here).
- Workplace Harassment Prevention for Non-Human-Rights-Code Harassment (P034)
Deadline: April 30, 2021 Draft Revised Policy
Objective: This Policy is designed to promote a healthy, respectful and supportive work environment. It highlights conduct that may amount to non-Code workplace harassment (i.e., harassment that is not covered by the Board’s Human Rights Policy or the Human Rights Code) and outlines the system’s shared responsibility for fostering a harassment-free workplace. The goal is to prevent non-Code workplace harassment from taking place and, where necessary, to investigate and respond to instances, potential instances, and complaints of such behaviour in a fair, timely and effective manner.
Asian Heritage Month at the TDSB: Invitation to attend the Virtual Launch
Asian Heritage Month is recognized formally throughout Canada through an official declaration that was signed in May 2002. The Senate of Canada accepted this motion originally proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy in December 2001. Subsequently, the Province of Ontario passed the Asian Heritage Act (2005), which states:
"Asia is the largest continent in the world both in terms of size and population. It includes people from many regions such as East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and Southeastern Asia. Peoples from these regions who have immigrated here over the past 100 years and longer have significantly contributed in the settlement, growth and development of our province. Specifically, Asians have helped to shape Ontario culturally, economically and politically. It is appropriate to recognize and pay tribute to the contributions that Asians have made and continue to make to the development and general welfare of Ontario."
We are proud to celebrate the numerous achievements of Asian-Canadians and their significant role on the global stage.
This year our theme is Discover. Share. Celebrate our Resiliency!
An invitation by the TDSB Asian Heritage Month planning committee is being extended to all TDSB staff, students, and the TDSB community to attend the Virtual TDSB Asian Heritage Month Celebration. Please see the details below and on the attached flyer.
TDSB Asian Heritage Month Virtual Celebration
Date: Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
We hope you’re available to join us!
Liberation 75: Global Gathering of Holocaust survivors, descenants, educators, and friends: May 4-9
Liberation75 is the world's largest international event to mark the 75th anniversary of liberation from the Holocaust.
Join thousands of others as we commit to fighting antisemitism and continuing Holocaust education and remembrance.
School Year Calendar 2020-2021
Note: Virtual Schools follow the same calendar as in-person schools unless otherwise noted.
The official school year calendar for the Toronto District School Board runs from September to June 30. This year, the last day of class for elementary students is June 29, the last day of class for secondary students is June 28.
New Ward Community Coffee: June 9
The Ward 11 Community Coffee Meetings have gone virtual! Grab your favourite mug, and join us from the comfort of your own home for a casual conversation about the TDSB and our Ward 11 schools.
The final Coffee Meeting will be on June 9 (mark your calendar!)
As always, should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
And until the next time, stay healthy, stay safe!
Rachel Chernos Lin
TDSB Trustee, Ward 11, Don Valley West, Rachel.ChernosLin@tdsb.on.ca