Dear parents, caregivers and community members,
With the weather getting chillier, I hope everybody is staying healthy and safe. For those in our bricks and mortar schools, today (Friday, November 20) is a PA Day, with elementary parents and caregivers participating in zoom parent-teacher interviews. The Virtual School elementary students will have their PA Day on December 4. For our secondary in-school learners, today is a day off with Quadmester 2 beginning on Monday. I imagine many Ward 11 teenagers, like my own daughter, took this opportunity to sleep in!
Many of you will have heard rumblings of potential school closures or an elongated winter break in the news. The Province has jurisdiction over the school calendar and the closing of school. As of late this week, the Minister of Education stated that at this point in time, he had no plans for an elongated winter break. Should the government announce any change to our schedule or model (such as a pivot to full virtual learning), the TDSB will communicate widely.
The Provincial government did declare new Covid-measures this afternoon, including a 'Lockdown' for Peel Region and Toronto. At this point, schools are not additionally affected by this. As Covid-numbers continue to rise in our city, it is imperative that everyone diligently follow all advice from city and provincial health authorities. Our schools remain open, and we are truly hopeful to be able to remain open and operational right up until winter break and to reopen as planned after the holiday season. And of. course,as the province announced this afternoon, Toronto will enter a "lockdown" as of early Monday morning, but schools will remain open.
This past week, trustees held our annual Organizational Board meeting where we chose committees to sit on for the upcoming year and elected those who will provide leadership. We acclaimed Chair Alexander Brown to continue on as our Chair of the TDSB, and elected a new Vice-Chair, Christopher Mammoliti.
I was elected Chair of the Program and School Services Committee, and I will also now officially be serving on the Negotiations Steering Committee and the Inner City Advisory Community Advisory Committee. I will be continuing to serve on the French as a Second Language Community Advisory Committee (though in a new capacity as the Trustee Co-Chair), as well as the Trustee Self-Assessment Committee and the Director's Search Committee.
I decided to step down from my position as the trustee lead on the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) after two years of service in that capacity. It was a terrific experience and I loved being so involved with such a dedicated group of parents from all over our city. It was a tough decision, as I believe so firmly in the importance of parent engagement, but I felt the time was right to gain new experiences from different committees. Former Vice-Chair of the TDSB, Trustee Trixie Doyle, has taken my place on PIAC and I am confident that she will be an exceptional lead for PIAC! And, although I've only now been away from PIAC for a few days, I am looking forward to joining their parent conference that starts tomorrow! Please see more details about this conference below, including ward specific sessions on Sunday afternoon's session, where I will be joining our ward 11 reps and constituents for what will surely be an interesting and productive session.
In this newsletter...
While is has only been three weeks since my last newsletter, there is a significant amount of new information to report. Below, you will find registration for this weekend's aforementioned PIAC Conference on Parent Engagement, updates on Board news (including the unanimous passage of the motion I put forward and reported on last newsletter regarding interrupting systemic bias in our discipline procedures), news regarding midtown planning development applications, and much, much more, including:
- PIAC Parent Conference: March 20/21
- Early French Immersion (SK entry): Registration closes November 27
- Beyond 8: Grade 8 to 9 Transition (and Virtual Open Houses)
- Post-Secondary Information session on November 24
- Special Education & Inclusion update
- Optional Attendance
- Midtown: Overcrowded schools, long-term planning, and development application consultations
- Returning to School Updates
- Status of Mechanical Ventilation Systems in TDSB Schools
- Elementary Virtual School updates: Newsletter, Progress Reports, Teacher Conferences, Resources, and switching schools
- Secondary Virtual School update: Quadmester 2 starting Monday, November 23
- Virtual Schools Code of Conduct
- Health & Safety Measures
- Covid-19 Advisories
- Covid-testing sites: Sunnybrook, Thorncliffe, and Flemingdon
- City News: TTC - Identification, safety, and March/April PRESTO credits
- TDSB: Permanent Director search
- Student Senate Election
- TDSB Board Organization & Meeting Schedule/Agendas
- PIAC Meeting March 17
- 2021 Prime Minister's Awards (Teachers, STEM & Early Childhood Educators)
- TDSB: Heritage & History Months
As always, I encourage everyone to keep checking the TDSB's website and social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) regularly as more information is released and updated
As mentioned above, please consider kicking off this weekend with the 14th and first-ever Virtual PIAC Parent Conference! Titled Ready, Set Engage - Navigating the School Year Together, we expect this event to be as successful as last month's Parent as Partners Conference (whose recordings/presentations have now been uploaded for (re)viewing). The PIAC Conference features 20+ workshops on a wide variety of topics related to parent involvement. Both Saturday and Sunday morning will begin at 10:30am with keynote speakers -- Saturday, with the unparalleled Michelle Munroe from the TDSB's Parent & Community Engagement Office, and Sunday with the always-inspiring Mante Molepo, from Parents for Diversity). Sunday afternoon, the Conference will conclude with a parent networking session where attendees with be grouped into Breakout Rooms by ward, and lead by local PIAC Reps. I am looking forward to joining constituents and my two amazing Ward 11 PIAC reps, Janice Barnett and Wilmar Kortleever, for what is sure to be an engaging session. Information and registration can be found: here.
I hope to "see" many of you at the Conference!
Early French Immersion (SK entry): Registration closes November 27)
For the upcoming 2021/2022 School year, applications to the Early French Immersion program are made the year your child is in Junior Kindergarten (or is of Junior Kindergarten age) for entry into the program for Senior Kindergarten in September 2021. It is an entirely online process (information: here).
Applications must be completed online by November 27, 2020 (do NOT wait until the last days as missing the date can mean losing a place in French Immersion).
For more information, click for the Application Process, archived web chats, and general information about French Programs.
Beyond 8: Grade 8 to 9 Transition
The list of High School Virtual Open Houses and Information Sessions can be found: here.
Post-Secondary Information Session
The TDSB invites families of Grade 12 students to attend an upcoming Post-Secondary Information Session on Tuesday, November 24, 2020 (7-8:15pm). This session is aimed at helping parents/guardians and students better understand the post-secondary admissions process during COVID-19.
Several post-secondary schools will participate. To join, click for the Zoom link on November 24
Special Education & Inclusion update
The Board has provided a Special Education and Inclusion update, with 2020/2021 information about:
- IPRC/SEPRC Structure 2020-2021
- Local (School-Based) IPRCs and SEPRCs
- System (Learning Centre) IPRC for Reviews and Original IPRCs
- System (Learning Centre) IPRC –Special Education CAP Chaired
- Grade 8 to 9 Transitions for Students in Intensive Support Programs (ISP)
- Annual IPRC (Review) for Exceptional Students
The TDSB Optional Attendance Policy provides a mechanism for students to attend schools and programs outside of their home catchment (by residential address). Optional Attendance for individual destination schools is listed as either:
- "Open" - accepting application
- "Limited" - accepting applications but with limited capacit
- "Closed" - no room for optional attendance
Schools with specialized programs will have additional criteria for admission; some schools require a supplementary application and some have highly specific requirements for admission. The Optional Attendance Policy has not changed for the 2021-22 school year. Students may apply to two regular schools beyond the home school (determined by residential address) and two specialized schools/programs. School counsellors and parents/guardians can help determine if choices are in line with the educational plans students have been working towards.
Optional Attendance information is available at https://www.tdsb.on.ca/Find-your/School/Optional-Attendance, including the Policy, the Operational Procedure, Application information (elementary schools, secondary schools), and deadlines (elementary school forms due February 21, 2021, secondary school forms due January 29, 2021).
Overcrowded schools, long-term planning, and development consultations in Midtown
As many of you are likely aware, we currently face a shortage of English elementary pupil spaces in midtown Toronto, and almost all Ward 11 schools are at or are well above capacity. As a result, the TDSB, through the Toronto Lands Corporation (the TDSB's real estate subsidiary), actively advocates for "holds" on all development applications in this area until we can accommodate pupils locally. In terms of long-term planning, we are looking at ways to work with our existing schools to make more space, but this is not a simple or a long-term solution, as what we really is a new school site in midtown Toronto.
Long Term Program an Accommoation Strategy (LTPAS)
Each year, the TDSB prepares a ten-year outlook for development planning purposes, called the Long-Term Program and Accommodation Strategy (LTPAS). The 2020-2021 LTPAS is now available online and can be found here. This plan is a guide to major areas of concern and focus, and provides our blueprint for moving forward this year and in the years to come.
Midtown, obviously, focusses heavily in the LTPAS section for Ward 11. As outlined in the LTPAS, this school year staff will begin the process of a Local Feasibility Team, whereby staff and local trustees will look once again at the problem of lack of English spaces in midtown. Should we narrow down some options, it will be brought to a larger process where we involve school council chairs, either towards the end of this school year or next school year.
Also noted in the LTPAS, we are looking for a new school site in the midtown area. To this end, TLC is now in discussions with the City of Toronto and Oxford Group regarding the possibility of finding space for a school site in the re-development of the south-west portion of land at Yonge and Eglinton. A community meeting on this development is coming up next week on Monday, November 23rd at 4pm. To learn more about this meeting and the re-development of this block, please click here.
In addition, over the last two weeks, the TDSB/TLC has attended the following two consultations regarding midtown:
- a block study consultation between Erskine and Broadway Avenues, and
- a development application meeting for 241 Redpath Avenue.
Erskine/Broadway Avenue Block Study
The TLC has been granted party status in this block study and will be representing the TDSB in this process. A virtual community consultation meeting was held last Tuesday. The City of Toronto staff presentation and the block plan study presentation are available online. The city of Toronto encourages everybody to complete a survey and provide feedback on the next steps for the Block Study. You’ll be able to give your thoughts on upcoming priorities in the study area, and the three potential development test cases. This survey will be available until Friday, November 27.
241 Redpath Avenue development
MOD Developments LP has proposed a 35-storey residential tower with a seven-storey base building facing Redpath Avenue and an 11-storey base building facing the rear of the site. The city reports that this application was submitted in June 2020 and is currently under review by City Planning staff.
Welcome Back, Jaye Robinson!
Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to welcome our Don Valley West, City Councillor, Jaye Robinson, back to official duties after her leave of absence due to illness. To be completely honest, Jaye was never really completely away -- she was always working and always available, I am not really sure how -- but to have her back more "officially" is wonderful news indeed. Our ward is lucky to have her working with us and on our behalf each and every day!
In the current environment, our information is constantly changing. The TDSB website for Return to School resources is updated regularly, please www.tdsb.on.ca/Return-to-School.
Each week at a special Committee of the Whole meeting, staff provides Trustees and the public with detailed updates on issues of importance to students, staff, and families around COVID school planning. These update meeting are typically scheduled for Tuesdays at 4:30pm and are publicly broadcast - on the TDSB website you can check the meeting schedule, and access the webcasts (previous ones are archived).
The most recent COVID-19 update meetings of the Committee of the Whole (CotW) were on November 10, and October 27.
- November 10: much of the information is in the presentation slides. On the Agenda were P/VP compensation, French Immersion/Extended French Reorganization in the Virtual School; and Secondary Model.
Full webcast: here.
- October 27: much of the information is in the presentation slides. On the Agenda were a Devices Update; Virtual Schools Update; Fundraising; Leadership and Reorganization Updates; Mental Health and Well-Being; School Open House/Transition Information Nights; and COVID-19 Cases Update & Pop-up Testing.
Full webcast: here.
Status of Mechanical Ventilation Systems in TDSB Schools
As Trustees, we've asked Staff for information regarding the current status of mechanical ventilation systems. In the list that was provided - here, check for Ward 11 - you can see that several schools are identified as having “partial mechanical” ventilation systems. These are schools that have mechanical ventilation in certain rooms or spaces, but not in the entire building. These, as well as schools without mechanical ventilation alltogether, have received or will be receiving HEPA units purchased by the TDSB.
TDSB Facility Team Leaders have reviewed all schools to confirm the status of mechanical ventilation systems and have been responding to school inquiries about ventilation and/or HEPA units. More information about HEPA units in TDSB schools can be found on the website, including a Q&A.
Virtual School - Elementary Schools update: Newsletter, Progress Reports, Teacher Conferences, Resources, and switching schools
It is encouraging to see improvement in staff communication in the Virtual Elementary Schools. Adding dozens of Vice-Principals has shortened the response time in returning phone calls and e-mails, and this week Superintendents Shirley Chan and Ian Allison joined their colleagues Jane Phillips-Long and Mary Jane McNamara to strengthen the leadership team further.
- Progress Reports (to be sent home Nov. 30 - Dec. 3),
PA Day & Parent/Guardian-Teacher Interviews (December 4)
- Codes of Conduct (see below)
- Grade 8 to 9 Transitions (see above)
- Resources (including the TDSB Virtual Library)
- Contact information (including new phone numbers)
- and more
Switching between the Virtual School and in-person learning
Information about Switching between in-person learning and the Virtual School can be found on the Virtual School website: here.
Currently, requests to switch a student into the Elementary Virtual School will be reviewed based on space availability and compassionate grounds. We also understand there are many students who would like to switch to virtual learning at the next transition opportunity. A formal process will be communicated soon.
Families who wish for their child(ren) to return to bricks and mortar schools can make requests through the LN Superintendent of Education for their child(ren’s) OSR school (where the student, pre-Covid pandemic, would have gone to school in September). Requests will be granted once the LN Superintendent has confirmed with the OSR school Principal that class caps will not be exceeded by allowing the student(s) to return. Once a student transfers back, decisions to return to bricks and mortar learning are final.
Virtual School - High School update and newsletter
The first Quadmester of the Virtual School concluded yesterday. Today, Friday, November 20 is a PA Day, giving teachers a day to prepare for the second Quadmester that starts Monday, November 23. Students have been notified (through e-mail, the TDSB Connects app, or otherwise) about their courses and schedules, or will be shortly.
See the TDSB website for last week's update from the Secondary Virtual School, as well as their newsletter that went out yesterday, which you can access here.
TDSB Virtual Schools Code of Conduct
Virtual learning is a new experience for students, teachers and parents/guardians in response to COVID-19. While virtual learning is taking place at home, the same responsibilities and expectations of students and parents/guardians apply as they do for in-person learning. This includes existing board policies and procedures such as the TDSB Online Code of Conduct.
Outlined within the new TDSB Virtual Schools Code of Conduct are guidelines and expectations for schools/educators, students and parents/guardians. This document has been provided to all Elementary and Secondary Virtual School Principals/Vice Principals and teachers to share with families and students.
Active COVID-19 in Schools Advisories
The Toronto District School Board is committed to providing up-to-date information about confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools (students and staff). This information is easily accessible by clicking on the Covid-19 Advisories banner on the main webpage www.tdsb.on.ca
Please note that all schools where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 will receive a letter from Toronto Public Health to inform them about the possible exposure. If individuals or classes need to quarantine or self-isolate, they will be informed specifically.
Covid-testing sites: Sunnybrook, Thorncliffe, and Flemingdon
In amd near Ward 11, there are several places to get a Covid-test, including Sunnybrook Hospital (2075 Bayview Ave, U-Wing).
Info (including pre-booking your appointment): here.
The City of Toronto, in cooperation with East Toronto Health Partners, has also opened a number of additional test centres in East Toronto, including:
- Flemingdon Park: Dennis R. Timbrell Resource Centre (29 St Dennis Dr.
Open November 3 to 30
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.
- Flemingdon Park: Angela James Arena (165 Grenoble Dr.)
Open November 9 to 30
Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m.
- Thorncliffe: TNO Youth Centre (45 Overlea Blvd., Unit 108A)
Open September 29 to November 30
Hours: Daily from 12 to 5:30 p.m.
You may also book an appointment in advance at this site by calling 647-477-1640.
City News: TTC Updates - Identification, safety, and March/April PRESTO credits
[from TTC's Stakeholder updates]
High school students – Identification on the TTC
For the 2020-2021 school year, students aged 16 to 19 will need to carry one of the following forms of photo identification as proof of age on the TTC:
- High school photo ID for 2020-2021 or 2019-2020 school year
- Driver’s license or Ontario Photo card
This temporary change is being made as a result of COVID-19 and the fact that some schools may not be allowing photographers in the school to take high school ID photos. The TTC no longer provides photo ID for youth or seniors at the TTC Photo Identification Centre. Learn more on our website here.
Safety on the TTC
Since January, the TTC has been performing significant additional cleaning and disinfection of all public spaces with a focus on touch and grab points, such as buttons, railings, handles and straps. Other efforts the TTC has taken to ensure customers and employees stay safe include:
- Cleaning all vehicles at least twice a day with hospital-grade disinfectant;
- Continuing to stock hand sanitizer in every station and on every streetcar and Wheel-Trans vehicle;
- Implementing demand-responsive bus service in addition to scheduled service; and
- The continued use of seat barriers and physical distancing signage in stations to allow customers to continue to practice safe physical distancing while travelling on the TTC.
For more information about staying safe on the TTC, check out our website.
One million masks campaign
In June, the TTC partnered with the City of Toronto Poverty Reduction Strategy Office to distribute one million masks to TTC customers across the city. Masks were distributed at subway stations and busy bus stops, in neighbourhood improvement areas and to community organizations identified by the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office.
The TTC is pleased to announce that it has reached its target of distributing one million masks, and will continue giving masks to customers across Toronto! TTC ambassadors will be distributing masks over the next few weeks along 25 busy bus routes and at subway stations.
PRESTO March/April pass credits
PRESTO card customers who purchased a March and April monthly pass, and are eligible for a pro-rated credit, must tap their PRESTO card before the end of November to load the credit onto their card. More information about eligibility can be found here.
TDSB: Permanent Director Search
The Toronto District School Board is in the process of recruiting its next Director of Education. This process is being led by a Trustee Director Search Committee (a committee I sit on), in partnership with Mandrake, an executive search firm. Currently, the Committee is in the midst of interviewing candidates.
To learn more about the search process and the role of a Director of Education, please visit www.tdsb.on.ca/directorsearch.
Student Senate Elections
The Toronto District School Board is pleased to announce that the Student Senate Election for 2020-21 will be held on Tuesday, January 26 and Wednesday, January 28, including the positions of President, Vice-President, Secretary/Treasurer, Communications Officer, Conference Chair, Alternative School Rep and Learning Centre Reps (In-person Learning and Virtual School).
The mandate of Student Senate is to provide consistent, responsive representation of all TDSB students at the appropriate levels, and to help ensure students' needs and interests are met with the proper attention. This year, to reflect the voices of all students and the way education is currently delivered due to COVID-19, each Learning Centre will have a rep from in-person learning and virtual school.
Interested students are asked to apply online by Friday, December 4. Each position is open to Grade 9 – 12 students, with the exception of the Learning Centre Reps, which is open to Grade 7 – 12 students. Official candidates will be asked to prepare a short campaign video, which will be posted online to promote their candidacy and help students make an informed decision when they vote. Campaign videos will be available from Monday, January 18 to Wednesday, January 27.
Please note that Student Trustees were elected separately in June 2020 for the 2020-21 school year. This election was delayed due to the various impacts of COVID-19.
TDSB Board Organization & Meeting Schedule/Agendas
The new Board Calendar (Board meetings, committee meetings) can be found here
Coming up in the next weeks:
- November 24th - Planning & Priorities Committee (Special Meeting) - with COVID updates (Live Webcast)
- November 25th - Finance, Budget & Enrollment, Special Meeting - Staff will provide updates on the 2020-21 enrollment, budget pressures, and COVID costs (Live Webcast).
- December 9th - Full Board Meeting
Among the motions to be decided - "Use of Outdoor Spaces for Instructional Time (Trustees Story and Aarts)
- January 13: Governance & Policy Committee
- January 13: Program & School Services Committee
- January 20: Finance, Budget & Enrollment Committee
- January 27: Planning & Priorities Meeting
- February 3: Full Board Meeting.
2021 Prime Minister's Awards
Please note the announcement of the nomination period for important Awards:
The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence - These awards honour outstanding and innovative elementary and secondary school teachers in all disciplines for their remarkable educational achievements and for their commitment to preparing their students for a digital and innovation‑based economy.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence in STEM -
These awards recognize inspirational Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers at the elementary or secondary school level who keep students engaged in STEM learning and who help develop the culture of innovation that Canada needs today, and in the future
For more information on those two awards, please click here.
The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education - These awards honour outstanding and innovative early childhood educators for their leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices, and their commitment to help build the foundation children need to make the best possible start in life. For more information, please click here.
Nomination packages must be submitted to the Prime Minister's Awards program office by January 12, 2021 — 11:59 a.m. Pacific Time
TDSB: Heritage and History Months
This month, November, we honour Indigenous Education Month: this month reminds us to centre First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives, histories and contemporary realities. In classrooms across the TDSB, it is an opportunity to learn about treaties, Indigenous leadership, achievements, and resistance.
Over the course of this month, students, staff and community members recognize a number of important days to deepen knowledge, to learn together about our shared history, and to build stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. For more information, click: Indigenous Education Month.
November is also Hindu Heritage Month. The theme chosen this year to recognize this at the TDSB Om Shanti: Living Together in Peace. The Sanskrit words OM Shanti are considered to be one of the most important mantras or sacred sounds in Hinduism. OM, or AUM, is energy, a vibration from which all the universe originates. Shanti refers to peace in many levels of existence.
For more information about Hindu Heritiage Month, click: here.
This week (November 15-21), TDSB recognizes Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week, together with school boards across the province. This is an opportunity to remember the impact that bullying can have on a school community and to talk about the ways we can report, support and prevent bullying in our schools.
Make sure to learn more about how we support students, bullying prevention programs that we offer and the educational partners we work with to support anti-bullying initiatives in our schools and classrooms.
The following government websites also provide resources on
Check out social media with #TDSBbekind to see the conversation with stories of kindness.
Chinese Heritage Month: Invitation to Participate in Planning Committee
Chinese Heritage Month is recognized at the TDSB in February. TDSB has issued a call-out to join a volunteer planning committee to develop system-wide activities for students, staff and the TDSB community. The mandate of the volunteer planning committee is to provide learning opportunities for students, staff and the TDSB community, as well as to enrich the curriculum resources through a collaborative approach of TDSB staff, community members and Trustees.
Details of the first planning meetings are noted below and we hope you will be able to join us! Chinese Heritage Month Planning Committee
Date/Time: December 3, 2020 / 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m - Zoomlink
For more information on Chinese Heritage Month, please contact Leola Pon, Executive Officer, Legal Services, and Senior Team Lead at Leola.firstname.lastname@example.org or Dani Carnevale, Service Co-ordinator at email@example.com.
Finally, I am hearing from multiple school communities that teenagers are gathering on school properties in large numbers from early evening until well into the early morning hours, particularly on weekends and particularly on schools with artificial turf fields. My office has received complaints about excessive noise, disorderly behaviour, broken glass and garbage being left, lack of social distancing being observed and large gatherings that flout public health rules and recommendations. With Covid-19 spreading among this age group throughout our city, I would ask that families remind their children about safety and the idea of being good neighbours. This is a stressful time for so many community members, including our youth, and it is important for us all remember to be considerate of each other and of our footprint in the community.
Rachel Chernos Lin