Although we are only midway through August, staff at the TDSB have been busy getting organized for the start of the school year. And, over the last week, parents and guardians have also been doing their part, by registering their children for in-person school or virtual learning. To those who did not receive an email link to register, you can expect follow-up phone calls to make your choice. If neither comes though by early next week, please email email@example.com, and cc your school superintendent. If you do not answer the registration email or phone call, your child will be placed in in-person learning.
A big thank you to all who joined last week's Ward Forum with Trustee Shelley Laskin and myself about the Return to School. Superintendents Ron Felsen and Andrew Howard helped us answer so many excellent questions! An expanded meeting report can be found: here.
In these uncertain Covid-times, developments move quickly. On August 4th, the Provincial Government issued their long-awaited Guidance for the 2021-22 school year, followed last Wednesday with the missing School Outbreak Management Guidance. We expect further guidance from Toronto Public Health this coming week, which staff will use to help finalize operational guidelines for our schools.
Mandatory Vaccine Motion
Opening schools - and keeping them open - is of the utmost importance for our children's learning, mental health and well-being. Science shows that being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of the most serious outcomes of Covid-19, including variants of concern like Delta. With Covid-numbers starting to rise, a readily-available vaccine supply, and a long-standing precedent in the province of Ontario for requiring various vaccinations to keep schools as safe as possible, it is imperative that we do everything we can to make our schools as safe as possible and protect children under 12 (for now ineligible to be vaccinated) and vulnerable populations.
With this in mind, I have submitted an emergency motion with my colleague, Trustee James Li, on the topic of vaccinations for all TDSB staff, to be discussed at the Planning and Priorities Meeting of the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, August 17th. The motion asks that the Director of Education work with Toronto Public Health, local health partners, and TDSB employee groups to develop a strategy and protocol to require COVID-19 vaccination or testing for staff, which can include a multipronged approach involving education and incentivization, to ensure TDSB workplaces remain as safe as possible for students and staff alike. Assuming this passes, TDSB will be the first public board of education in Ontario (and, I believe, Canada), to put this kind of policy in place, and we hope other boards will follow suit. To read this motion, please click here for the full Motion text.
GET YOUR SHOT!
Vaccines provide the best protection against COVID-19 and variants. The sooner you get both of your shots, the better for all.
Toronto's data is updated twice per week on Monday and Thursday by 4:00 PM, except on statutory holidays. As of August 12:
- 81.4% of 12+ with at least one shot (which is 72.3% of all Torontonians);
- 73.5% off 12+ fully vaccinated (65.3% of all Torontonians)
Among youth 12-17 years old:
- 78.4% with at least one shot.
- 64.1% fully vaccinated
More more details are available on the City's Vaccine Data web page.
Vaccine Hunters Canada now has vaccine finding information by region / PHU, including DAILY POP-UPs, WALK-INs and APPOINTMENT options - and the information is updated nightly - please click vaccinehunters.ca/diy.
East Toronto Clinics: from August 14 to 22, there will be several pop-up vaccine clinics in East Toronto. Open to anyone age 12 and older in any “M" postal code for both 1st & 2nd doses. Walk-ins often welcome. Click for Mobile and Pop-Up Vaccination Clinics in East Toronto, as listed by Michael Garron Hospital/East Toronto Health Network.
TDSB: The TDSB COVID-19 Vaccines page also has information about daily pop-up clinics in TDSB schools and links to Vaccine Hunters and other resouces. Please visit the TDSB Covid-19 Vaccines page
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.
Visit the following web pages:
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.
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:
- 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
2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR
The first day of classes for students is THURSDAY, September 9th.
The last day of class for elementary students is June 30, 2022.
The last day of class for secondary students is June 29, 2022
There are no classes for students on the dates listed below:
As we move towards reopening our schools, we strongly encourage all of those eligible for Covid-19 vaccines to please get vaccinated 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 earlier in this newsletter, 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!
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.