Your Ward 11 Trustee Newsletter
Your Ward 11 Trustee Newsletter
Ward 11 newletter header

Dear Parents,

As many of you are now aware, our Premier announced earlier this week that schools will not reopen to students until May 4th, 2020, at the earliest. With the two week, post-March Break period now coming to an end, everyone at the TDSB is gearing up to begin Phase 2 of remote learning, set to start on Monday, April 6. 

I know many parents have expressed frustration that TDSB schools were not up and running online right after March Break. Many parents felt underwhelmed by the Minsitry of Education's Learn at Home website, and overwhlemed at the thought of overseeing their own children's online learning. When we add into the mix that many parents are experiencing an unprecedented level of stress and anxiety due to social isolation, financial worries, the challenges for many around working from home, and the fears surrounding the risk of infection from Covid-19 and how it may affect their loved ones, it is safe to say that this is definitely an incredibly challenging time for families.
What I can tell you is that in the last couple of weeks, our staff have made great strides in getting our schools ready for emergency, remote learning. This is no small task in a board as large and as diverse as the TDSB. With a system of close to 600 schools and 220,000 students, creating an inclusive and flexible remote learning environment is truly a monumental task, especially under such tight time restraints. 

There were many initial challenges that needed to be worked through very quickly. For example, not all teachers had access to appropriate technology, reliable internet, or materials to deliver remote learning from home. Even more concerning, the TDSB was missing email addresses for over 22,000 families at the start of March Break. And while some staff had google classrooms set up and were familiar with online platforms, many were not. And with very little direction from the Ministry of Education at the outset regarding how to proceed, this was a large mountain to climb. 
I cannot express how truly impressed I have been in the last couple of weeks by the dedication, hard work and creativity of senior staff at the TDSB along with our Ward 11 school staff. At the outset, senior executive staff worked out strategies to contact all families and ensure connectivity of as many families as possible.  They created directives and guiding principles for staff, and have worked very hard these last two weeks in providing training for teachers with respect to online learning. Their aim has been to set up our system to deliver emergency, remote learning that is both inclusive and flexible, so that as many students as possible can be supported in this new learning environment. What I have seen from staff these past weeks has been truly astounding, with everyone pulling together, helping each other, and learning from each other with a "can-do" spirit that will serve everyone well in the weeks to come.
By the time you read this newsletter, all families should have had a chance to connect with their children's teachers (or, if children are older, their teachers may have connected directly with them), either by phone, email, google classroom or another virtual platform. This step has been so important, as teachers were missing their students, and students were missing their teachers. Teachers were also asked to check in with families and inquire about whether they had a tablet or computer at home, as well as internet access, and to learn about any challenges families are facing that may impact the online learning of their children. If you have not heard from your teachers, I would ask that you email your school principal to let him or her know that you have not been contacted. We want to ensure that no child is missed, and that as many as possible are included as we go forward with Phase 2 on Monday.
It should be noted that remote learning can never completely replicate classroom learning, and everyone -- students, teachers, and principals -- will be learning how to do this as effectively as possible on the fly. We ask for everyone's patience and support as schools embark on phase 2, and encourage everyone to keep communication lines open in a constructive way about what is and is not working as we work through this next chapter in the school year. 
Before I sign off, I do have a couple of items I want to bring to everyone's attention. See below for a couple of updates and resources. 


We are still hearing that families and individuals are continuing to use TDSB outdoor spaces. While we understand children and adults need fresh air and outdoor activity, our grounds are officially closed and off limits to all for the safety and well-being of our communities. Please be respectful of the situation and your community and follow the rules laid out by Public Health, our City, our Province and our Country. Physical distancing and staying home as much as possible is the safest and fastest way out of this pandemic, and everyone needs to comply for it to work effectively. 
Have you heard of 211? Calling ot texting 211 in Toronto connects people to community and social services quickly and easily so they can get the help they need. Operators can connect individuals to over 4,000 social and community services, such as government services, financial assistance, employment assistance, childcare, food, clothing and shelter. In addition, calling 211 offers 24/7 confidential services in 150 languages. You can also connect with 211 online through this website:


As mentioned earlier, this is a stressful time for both students and parents. TDSB has put together a list of links to vetted, data-driven resources to help families cope during this uncertain time. These can be found on the home page of our website or by clicking here


All TDSB schools, including those in Ward 11, were asked to go through their inventories of Personal Protective Equipment in order to support health care workers in their fight against Covid-19. At the time of this newsletter, the TDSB has shared 70,000 pairs of gloves, 14,000 N95 Respirator Masks, and almost 4000 bottles of hand sanitizer with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services! Way to go team TDSB! 

Finally, thank you to all of you who have reached out to me to offer support, provide feedback, and ask questions. Although I too am a parent in this system, your experiences and insights provide me with important feedback and context for my job in supporting you and your families. And to those of you who are on the front lines -- working in grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, emergency response, and hospitals -- a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you are doing for our community, our city and our country. 

Yours truly,


Rachel Chernos Lin
Ward 11 Trustee, Toronto District School Board

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