Addressing student need, Ward 16 schools, Technology, Resources
Addressing student need, Ward 16 schools, Technology, Resources
Trustee Michelle Aarts Header

May 6th, 2020

I hope that you and your family are keeping well and safe during this stressful time. Work at the Board has been busier than ever as we continue to expand resources and training, address student need, and plan for a variety of possible scenarios this spring and into the summer. Below are the recent most recent updates from Director of Education John Malloy:
Addressing Need during School Closures
School Closures have exaccerbated equity gaps across the TDSB and our top priority has been to address student and family wellbeing. This week that focus is especially true as we also observe Children's Mental Health Week (May 4-8). Many of you have asked for updates on how the TDSB is serving the needs of students, especially those without technology, without secure home situations, in poverty, or whose wellbeing is otherwise in jeopardy. Please know that staff, especially our Principals, are working tirelessly to reach out to each family by email, phone, and post to ensure that individual needs are assessed and addressed either by the TDSB or our community partners.
Student Nutrition Supports
Staff at individual schools are addressing food security needs on a family by family basis, including using funds from their nutrition budgets to provide grocery cards to families. Families who still have need at this time are encouraged to reach out to their school Principal for support and coordination with both TDSB and community programs.
In addition, the Toronto Foundation for Student Success (TFSS), working with TDSB staff, has converted its school nutrition program into "Food For Kids", providing grocery cards for families in need. To date TDSB staff have so far:
  • contacted 60,678 students in 176 highest needs schools (121 elementary and 47 Secondary)
  • addressed needs in additional schools based on direct donations
  • provided 500 grocery cards (total $100,000) were distributed to each Learning Centre for staff to address needs as they arise.
The TFSS Food For Kids program will continue to operate as long as schools are closed and the program can secure funding. For more information or to make a donation please visit
Families in need can also access local supports through Access Point on Danforth (Danforth Ave & Victoria Park Ave) which has a student lunch program Tuesdays & Fridays from 1-2pm; and other East York area foodbanks and resources can be found on the Toronto Central Healthline Website.
For some students the change in routines and feelings of separation from peers, educators and caregivers may cause distress. This is the time offers an opportunity to strengthen our connections with support networks (friends, families, professionals) and pay greater attention to our well-being. TDSB staff, both in schools and centrally assigned, are working to support students and families. Child & Youth Workers, Social workers, Attendance Councillors, and Community Support Workers continue to serve their clients and address new issues identified by school staff. If your child needs additional supports please don't hesitate to contact their teacher, Principal, or the Superintendent. You can also find updated wellbeing resources including Kid's Help phone, Mental Health and safety hotlines, and at home resources on the TDSB Wellbeing Website.
Community Resources
To ensure access to information on essential services and supports, we have developed a list of external community-based resources that we hope can offer assistance during this period. For the most updated list, please visit the webpage for Community Supports and Resources.
  • Multi-lingual COVID-19 Resources
  • Income Support
  • Food Access
  • Housing
  • Legal Supports
  • Job Security
  • Refuge from Family Violence
  • Family/Caregiver Parenting Supports
Links to local, Beaches-East York resources, how you can access or how you can contribute, can be found on Councillor Bradford's Webpage "Supporting the Community Through Covid-19".

Ward 16 Schools

Despite our challenging situations there are lots of great things happening with our schools, teachers, and students. A great place to see this work is on social media - most of our schools have Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook accounts. Students and families also share their projects and activities. 
Toronto's Buried Creeks - Gus, a student from Earl Haig PS shared his video project on Toronto's buried creeks. The video features the history of Small's Creek and Williamson Ravine and explores what happens to ecosystems when people change the course of waterways. The video is posted to YouTube ( and is a great piece of local information.
Below you can see a beautiful Freedom Quilt project produced by the students in Rm 301 at Balmy Beach, featuring different patterns and symbols:
Follow Ward 16 Schools on Twitter:
@ADAMBECKJRPS @BeachBalmy @TDSB_Bowmore @bas_kimberleyps @TDSB_DA @crescent_town @BeattyPS @EarlHaigCouncil @GABrownMS_TDSB @TDSB_GW @gledhillSC @glenames_robos @TDSB_KEW @WJMcCordic @NorwayJrPS  @OConnorTDSB @TDSB_ParksideES @PresteignPS @SecordTDSB @tdsb_selwyn @WilliamsonRdPS @TDSBVicParkES @EYCIGuidance @malvernci_TDSB

Technology Support
To date the TDSB has received 53,000 requests for devices from families, which have been collected and processed by staff, and shipped out via courier. Staff will continue to fill requests as they come in. Families who still need devices are encouraged to contact their school Principal to discuss supports.
Staff have created a ‘Device and Tech Support for Students’ portal designed to support students and families. It includes student and parent guides on using Google Classroom and Brightspace, as well as a Device support and Student Password Reset links. 

Learning Sessions for Parents/Families
In order to help parents get to know the online learning resources used in the TDSB staff have created webinars, posted to YouTube for easy access:
Supporting Remote Learning
Situations look different from household to household and from classroom to classroom across the city. Each teacher delivers education based on their own expertise and experience, to the diverse needs of all students in the classroom. In addition to providing devices and supporting online resources the TDSB has mailed out 12,000 paper learning packages to families identified based on need. While many of us find working online 'common' not every teacher or family is familiar with web-based teaching and learning resources or has access to the technology. TDSB staff have provided thousands of hours of training and networking to increase capacity and confidence in new approaches.
The Ministry of Education has set out the expectations of teacher-led remote learning by grade, however our expectations of educators in the TDSB are continually evolving and include consideration of:
  • Equity – creating accessible, relevant and respectful learning experiences for all students
  • Communication – using a variety of communication channels and having regular ongoing and open contact with students and families
  • Well-Being – investing in developing students’ learning skills and resilience during this unusual time and paying attention to well-being and mental health needs
  • Technology and Learning Platforms – how the needs of all students are being met
What can families expect from remote learning?
  • Communication from your child’s teacher
  • Instruction to facilitate both online and offline learning in key subject areas, aligned with curriculum
  • Connection to peers
  • Feedback from your child’s teacher on their work and participation
Please know that even in this unprecedented time you still have a right to raise your concerns and talk them through with the appropriate staff. If a parent/caregiver has a school-related problem or issue affecting a child/children, families or the community, which you believe requires the attention of the school staff or the Board, please contact your child's teacher first. Your child’s classroom teacher is the first point of contact, followed by the school’s principal, the school superintendent and finally your Trustee -
Student Trustee Elections
Last year the TDSB moved to online nomination and voting for student trustees. Student Trustee Elections were not postponed by the Province and so will take place on June 11th.  Nominations are due by May 14th.  Student Senate elections will be held in the Fall. More information can be found on the Student Trustee webpage.
Summer School
Please note that staff are still working on possible scenarios for elementary and secondary summer school this year, depending on how the Covid-19 pandemic progresses. Please visit the Summer School Webpage for updates or ask your Principal for more information.
Summer e-Learning for Secondary Students, both 'reach-ahead' and credit recovery, will proceed as planned. Please visit for more information.
Board of Trustees
During these uncertain times the TDSB Board of Trustees have been holding additional weekly meetings and emergency Board meetings. Some important processes are on hold due factors outside of the Board, such as delays in the Budget 2020-21 planning due to lack of a GSN funding announcement by the Province, however the Board must push forward to proactively plan for all scenarios and to ensure student safety and the integrity of education. While the Province has closed schools until May 31st it has not begun discussions about whether school will resume this year or what that might look like. TDSB staff are contingency planning for all possible scenarios but the Board elected this week to for an Emergency Response and Recovery Task Force that will take on the 'political' role of lobbying and working with Public Health Agencies, the Municipality, and the Province to ensure a safe and well-planned return to school. 
In addition to the Task Force, Trustees also passed 2 motions for more extensive education supports. The first motion requests additional resources from the Ministry of Education, for all school boards, to cover the cost of technology for remote learning and to properly prepare for a return to school, including enhanced social & psychological supports and special education supports. The second motion "Remote Learning" supports the Director of Education to work with employee groups and staff to enhance and improve consistency in the remote outreach and engagement between teachers and students.
Finally it is with sadness and gratitude that we announce that the Board has accepted the retirement announcement of Director John Malloy, effective November 1st, 2020. I began volunteering with TDSB Advisory Committees before John joined the TDSB. There were many aspects of the TDSB that needed improvement and I have witnessed a massive undertaking and great transformation in the work being done by the TDSB to enhance equity, bring transparency, accessibility and openness to communication, and to redesign operations to serve student need. The ambitious projects launched under John's direction were part of the reason I wanted to join the Board. I am grateful to have worked with John, even for a short time, and look forward to carrying on and expanding the equity work that he began.
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