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Happy New Year and Welcome Back! 
Hope everyone had a relaxing holiday season and transitioned well to the new school year! During the month of January, the Toronto District School Board is excited to be starting off the New Year by celebrating Tamil Heritage Month. This year, the chosen theme selected by the volunteer planning committee is, Vision 2020: Yengal Kathaigal - Our Stories / Vision 2020: எங்கள் கதைகள் - Our Stories.

Toronto has the largest Tamil population outside of the South Asian subcontinent with thousands of TDSB students and staff members heritage identified as Tamil. All have stories of their journey of how they or their families arrived in Canada, and how they continue to embrace this country as their home.  
I was pleased to join the North Etobicoke Tamil Seniors Group this weekend to celebrate!

Lunch and Learn 

During my last Ward Forum held in November, many parents and community members expressed an interest to learn more about parent council. In addition to this, I receive many phone calls and emails on a weekly basis from school council members about their role and responsibilities. I am teaming up with Michelle Munroe, TDSB's Central Coordinator of Parent and Community Engagement, to offer a lunch and learn session for our community. This session will cover everything you need to know about school councils and be an opportunity for you to ask your questions. 
We are in the process of deciding a date but the event will be open to all, even though the focus is on school council members. 

Labour Update:
ETFO Strike Action on Feb. 6 & 7

ETFO announced that if no agreement is reached by January 31, ETFO members will be required to engage in a one-day rotating strike and a one-day full provincial strike each week ETFO has announced strikes on the following dates that will impact all TDSB elementary schools (JK-8):

Thursday, February 6, 2020 – province-wide strike
Friday, February 7, 2020 – rotating strike impacting the TDSB

Should the strikes take place, the TDSB would, once again, have no other option but to close all elementary schools to students on Thursday, February 6 and Friday, February 7 as there would not be sufficient supervision to ensure their safety. 
As always, for ongoing labour updates, please visit the TDSB website and follow @tdsb on Twitter.

Kindergarten Registration

Registration for all TDSB Kindergarten programs begins in February. Continuing this year, families will have the option to begin the registration process online using the Online Registration (OLR) System or to visit their school in person to register. Information and detailed instructions about the registration process is available online at www.tdsb.on.ca/kindergarten.    

Coronavirus Information

Yesterday, Ontario’s Ministry of Health issued this letter to school communities across the province from Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. Please read this important letter.
Among the suggestions provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health are:

• Get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies (for flu only);
• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
• Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;
• If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; and
• If you or your family members are ill, stay home.

At this time, public health officials advise that the risk to the public remains low. As a result, the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health and Toronto Public Health are not advising school boards and their schools to take any additional precautions, including the wearing of medical masks or denying entry to students and/or staff. 

The health and safety of all students, staff and school communities are our top priority. In partnership with public health officials, we will continue to keep you updated and will advise should any additional precautions become necessary.

Junior Extended French Parent/Guardian Information Sessions

This year, there will be two virtual (online webchat) information sessions for parents/guardians interested in the Junior Extended French (Gr. 4 entry) application process. For more information on dates/times for each virtual online webchat session, please visit www.tdsb.on.ca/French website or click on Information Sessions.

Early French Immersion Parent/Guardian Information Sessions

This year, there will be two virtual (online webchat) information sessions for parents/guardians interested in the Early French Immersion (SK entry) application process. For more information on dates/times for each virtual online webchat session, please visit www.tdsb.on.ca/French website or click on Information Sessions.

Winter Weather and Student Transportation

From time to time, it may be necessary to cancel student transportation, classes and/or programs due to severe weather. On rare occasions, severe weather makes it necessary to close schools, administrative offices or sites.

With approximately 246,000 students in 582 schools, any decision to cancel buses, classes and/or programs or to close sites can have a significant impact on thousands of families across Toronto. This decision is not taken lightly. When schools remain open on days with inclement weather, parents/guardians make the final decision on whether to send their children to school and they can keep children home from school if they so choose.

Should a cancellation or closure be necessary, information will be posted on the TDSB web site, TDSB social media and provided to local media by 6 a.m. For more information, please see the TDSB's Procedure for Severe Weather: http://www.tdsb.on.ca/About-Us/Detail/docId/242

Traffic Safety Tips: Help Make this a Safe Winter Season

As winter approaches, we know that severe weather will be part of our daily lives for the next several months. While traffic safety is an important matter all year long, this is a particularly good time to review what we can do to keep students safe.
The need to be aware and alert at all times, on any road, and even in the most routine circumstances is key to traffic safety. This applies to students and drivers alike. Road conditions can be challenging in the winter months. So to those of us who drive, please take extra care on the roads and in parking lots, especially in areas where children might be present.
School staff periodically review street and traffic safety with students. Parents can help reinforce these safety messages with children at home. Below are some tips that might be helpful to review.
  • Stop, look, and listen for traffic.
  • Only cross at corners and crosswalks.
  • Make eye contact with drivers. 
  • Walk on the right side of the crosswalk. 
  • Wear appropriate footwear to reduce the chances of slipping. 
  • Never run into the street. 
  • Obey crossing signals. 
  • Cross only if clear. 
  • Walk on sidewalks.
  • Where there are no sidewalks, walk as far away from traffic as possible, facing traffic.
The safety of our students is always a top priority. Let's work together to make the winter season safe so we can enjoy all it has to offer.

Reminder: Call School if Your Child Will be Late or Absent

One measure of keeping our students safe is to ensure we can account for any absences or reasons for being late to school. We would like to remind you that if your child is going to be absent or late for any reason, we ask that you contact the school immediately and report the reason for the absence. If we are not informed about the absence, we will make attempts to contact you through our automated call-out system to determine the reason for the absence. To find out how this automated system works please visit http://www.tdsb.on.ca/HighSchool/CaringSafeSchools/SafeArrivalProgram.aspxb

Please let the office know by calling the school if your contact information, including phone number, changes at any time throughout the school year.

Thank you for your continued cooperation to keep your children safe and accounted for.

Music by the Lake - Update

The Arts team has begun planning for this year’s Music by the Lake scheduled for May 30 - June 5, 2020.   We are excited to be offering the camp at a new location this year, and will release location details in the coming weeks.  
Music by the Lake is an overnight camp with a focus on music for Grades 6-8 students offering programming in band, strings, choir, steel pan, drumming, ukulele, jazz, and guitar.   Students also participate in outdoor recreation and leadership development activities offered at the camp’s excellent facilities.  Students from grades 10-12 will have an opportunity to apply for student counsellor positions at the camp to develop their leadership and musical skills. New this year, campers will have an opportunity to select an arts elective and try out a new musical or artistic discipline in addition to their main ensemble choice.  
Key Dates & Information:
  • Music by the Lake Camp:  May 30 - June 5, 202
  • Location to be announced by the end of January
  • Student camper applications and bursary information in February
  • Secondary school student leader applications available in March
  • More details to follow in the next few weeks regarding Music by the Lake staffing for TDSB teachers, Itinerant Music Instructors and Administrators 

Please note that while planning is underway for the 2020 Music by the Lake Camp, we are monitoring the current labour sanctions carefully and the possible impact on Music by the Lake.
We will update the Spotlight on the Arts webpage with new information when it becomes available.  We are also communicating with Principals to share this information with staff, students, and their school community. 
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