I hope this finds everyone enjoying the beautiful summer weather in this first week of August.
As the days grow shorter, all of us at the TDSB are getting excited to hear the laughter and excitement of the first day of school, coming up in just over a month! We hope you and your families are too.
As you may have seen in the news earlier this week, the Provincial Government released their back to school plan and then shared additional details on funding for ventilation improvements. With TDSB's registration for the 2021-2022 school year starting today,Thursday, August 5th, and running for one week, Trustee Laskin and I felt it would be helpful to offer a ward forum to talk about back to school planning with our two communities.
So with that in mind, please mark your calendars for a joint Ward 8 and 11 Return to School Ward Forum, this coming Monday, August 9th, 5:30-7pm.
Trustee Laskin and I will be joined by our wonderful Ward 8 and 11 Superintendents to talk about back to school planning. As staff are busy working on the operationalization of the latest directives from the Ministry of Education, and awaiting Toronto Public's Health revised guidelines for this school year, we may not be able to answer every single question you may have just yet. However, we will do our very best to address questions with the information we have, and we will take back any questions where we don't yet have answers to seek out that information as it becomes available.
Ministry of Education Back to School Plan
As mentioned above, the Ministry of Education has now released their Back to School Plan for the 2021-2022 school year. You can download this guide from the Ministry of Education here.
Please note that some information is still forthcoming. The report does not yet have details on COVID case management in schools, and Local Public Health Units and TDSB can put in place additional protocols based on local data for safety measures such as masking, screening, etc. TDSB staff are currently reviewing the Ministry plans and working with Toronto Public Health. As we get more information, it will be posted online at www.tdsb.on.ca/School-Year-2021-22 as it becomes available.
Selection Form: Coming to your inbox Thursday, August 5th, 2021
As shared in an email to parents and caregivers this week, the TDSB will be asking all families to complete a Selection Form for In-Person or Virtual Learning for the 2021-22 school year.
Over the summer, COVID-19 cases in Toronto have declined, and we have seen significant progress with vaccines among adults and children aged 12-17. This is encouraging news, and we look forward to reconnecting all students to their home schools and welcoming them in person in September.
While requests for Virtual Learning will be accommodated where necessary, we strongly encourage all students to select In-Person Learning. Based on our TDSB data about how students feel they learn best, and available data with respect to students returning to in-person learning, we feel confident that this is the best choice for students following what has been a challenging year.
Families can complete the Selection Form for In-Person or Virtual Learning online from Thursday, August 5 to Thursday, August 12.
An email with a Selection Form link will be sent on Thursday, August 5. Families with two or more children will receive a separate email and link for each student. Families must complete the Selection Form using the link provided.
Those without an email address on file with the TDSB will receive a phone call to complete the Selection Form between August 10 and 12. Students will be placed in In-Person Learning if we do not receive a completed Selection Form by August 12.
Thank you for your cooperation as we work together to prepare for a smooth start to the school year. If you know someone who would benefit from translation of this information, please note that we have translated this registration selection information on our website into 21 different languages. Links to these translations can be accessed here.
Student Transportation Updates for the 2021-2022 School Year
The Toronto Student Transportation Group (TSTG) is responsible for organizing and leading student transportation for the TDSB and TCDSB, and has been working hard with both school boards and bus operators to ensure a safe and smooth start-up for student transportation services for the 2021-22 school year. Read more about the changes made and the health and safety protocols put in place to keep students and drivers safe.
To start the 2021-22 school year, the TSTG will once again be implementing a phased-in start for student transportation to ensure that students with special education needs are prioritized and receive bus service beginning the first week of school.
From September 9 to September 14, 2021 – only students with special education needs (excluding those in the gifted program) who travel to school on mini buses, mini vans, taxis and Wheelchair accessible vehicles will be provided with student transportation.
Starting September 15, 2021 – all other eligible students will be provided with student transportation, unless there is a significant driver shortage or other unforeseen issues related to COVID-19.
Given the continued school bus driver shortage across the province, this phased-in approach provides TSTG with additional time to identify and address any potential start-up issues, and helps to ensure that when full transportation services are in place, they are running as smoothly as possible.
Health and Safety Protocols on School Buses
As with last year, there are a number of health and safety protocols that will continue to be in place on school buses for the 2021-2022 school year. To learn more, please click here.
Empty Seat Policy
Once again, the TDSB’s Empty Seat Policy (PR504) has been put on hold for the 2021-2022 school year to help promote physical distancing on school busses, as well as to help the TSTG and bus operators effectively plan bus routes and seating arrangements in line with the COVID-19 health and safety precautions.
All parents/guardians with children who take the bus to school are encouraged to sign up for the Student Transportation Parent Portal to access important information and updates. The Parent Portal gives you access to transportation information specific to your child, including route number, stop location, times and bus company contact details. There is also the web based “where’s my bus” tool that will indicate the whereabouts of the bus for those who are registered.
If you have additional questions about student transportation for the 2021-22 school year, please call the transportation office temporary start-up number at 647-790-3829 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ventilation is one strategy to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools by helping to reduce the number of virus particles in the air. The TDSB has focused on several areas to improve ventilation in schools and keep students and staff healthy.
Filtering the Air
- Installing more than 14,000 industrial-grade HEPA units in TDSB schools to enhance air cleaning and meet the TDSB’s commitment of placing an institutional-grade HEPA filter in every occupied classroom.
- Ensuring the filters in existing mechanical systems are replaced prior to school starting and increasing the frequency of changing them throughout the year.
Ensuring Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Settings are Maximizing Ventilation
- Conducting assessments on all mechanical ventilation to ensure they are fully operational and servicing where necessary.
- Prioritizing repairs for mechanical systems to ensure they are operating efficiently.
- Adjusting the operating schedules for all mechanical systems to maximize air flow, increase fresh air intake and increase the amount of air exchanges per day in the building.
- Setting the systems to run at maximum outside airflow a minimum of two hours before school starts and two hours after it ends to refresh the air before arrival and remove remaining particles at the end of the day.
Maximizing Outdoor Air
- Encouraging schools to open windows for short periods of time throughout the day to increase ventilation and bring in natural fresh air.
- Promoting and supporting classes, activities and lunches to be held outside where possible. Learn more how the outdoors is being considered an extension of the classroom.
Addressing Local Projects to Improve Ventilation
- Investing more than $35 million in:
* Upgrading the air handling equipment in 66 TDSB schools.
* Upgrading Building Automation Systems in 103 schools to provide new digital controls to operate HVAC systems. These new controls will allow updated programming to increase the amount of fresh air delivered to the school throughout the year and also provide improved diagnostic capabilities that will alert school operations staff if ventilation equipment is not operating correctly.
* Installing new ventilation systems in 21 portables.
- Continuing to address and prioritize local ventilation needs.
Understanding Ventilation Systems
Ventilation is the process of supplying or removing air from a space for the purpose of controlling the indoor air quality within the space. The TDSB has nearly 600 schools that use a variety of ventilation systems based primarily on when the school and any subsequent building additions were built. The types of ventilation systems commonly in use are:
- Mechanical Ventilation -- This is ventilation provided by motor-driven fans. These systems may include supply fans which push outdoor air into a building and exhaust fans which expel air out of a building. These systems also condition the air through the use of heating and/or cooling equipment so that air is delivered to the space at comfortable temperatures.
- Passive Ventilation – This is ventilation delivered to the space primarily by air diffusion effects through doors, windows or other intentional openings in buildings. In TDSB schools, air diffusion effects are often augmented through the use of exhaust fans that assist in drawing fresh air into a building.
- Combined Ventilation – Schools that have had one or more additions built over time may have a combination of mechanical and passive ventilation systems. Passive ventilation would typically be found in older sections of a school while newer sections would most likely be served by mechanical ventilation systems.
HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) Filters
Regardless of the ventilation system(s) in use at a school, all TDSB classrooms, portables and wellness rooms used for instructional purposes have been equipped with medical-grade, fan-powered HEPA filtration units. HEPA filters are clinically proven to reduce the spread of airborne infections in health care facilities by removing viruses, bacteria and allergens as small as 0.3 microns from the air. The use of HEPA filtration units, in combination with improved ventilation strategies and existing health and safety protocols, work together to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support a safer environment for staff and students.
Pandemic Recovery Plan
Since the initial school closure in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students at the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) have experienced ongoing closures and multiple transitions to online, remote learning. While these closures have impacted all students and families, we know that the experience has varied greatly from student to student depending on individual and family circumstances.
Since the pandemic has extended over the course of the full 2020-21 school year, concerns have been raised over the long-term impacts on student learning for all ages and grade levels as well as the impacts on students’ mental health and well-being.
The Toronto District School Board’s COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Plan is a three-phase plan that will identify which groups have been most impacted, where interventions will be put in place, and initial outcomes that result from these interventions.
This is the first report in what will be a series of reports over the next two years. It consists of an in-depth analysis of key student perception and learning outcome data and has been divided into sections that address the areas of focus for the year ahead:
To read the full report, please click here.
- Building Relationships and Enhancing Belonging
- Use of Play/Outdoor Play
- Honouring Skills/Knowledge Gained During the Pandemic
- Assessment For Learning/As Learning
- Differentiated Supports For Those Who Have Had Greater Impacts From the Pandemic
- Staff Collaboration
- Digital Tools for Engaging Students/Families
- Virtual Learning 2021-2022
As we move towards reopening our schools, we strongly encourage all of those eligible for Covid-19 vaccines to please get your shots so that we can all stay as safe as possible. There are many clinics open to those 12 and older near Ward 11/Don Valley West on a daily basis. To learn more about the many city, hospital, pharmacy and mobile clinics, click on the graphics below or go to the Michael Garron Hospital website for a list of pop-up clinics located in close proximity to Ward 11, also available by clicking here. In order to be fully vaccinated for the start of school, don't delay, get your shot today!
I hope to see many of you at the ward forum on Monday evening, and look forward to seeing many of you, perhaps even in person, during the 2021-2022 school year!
Rachel Chernos Lin, Ward 11 TDSB Trustee, Don Valley West
Over the summer, or at any time, 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.