While the days are getting longer and colder, our schools are full of light and excitement, especially with Halloween coming this weekend. Many of our elementary schools have class Halloween events planned to celebrate, and I cannot wait to see all the kids dressed up as they walk to school today!
Sports and extra curriculars are resuming across Ward 11, and parent-teacher interviews for high-school students (over zoom and phone) started this week. In many ways, school is beginning to feel a little more like it used to, but in many profound ways, it really isn't back to normal.
When the Provincial Government released a roadmap last Friday that would see pandemic restrictions and vaccine passports lifted in the first three months of 2022, Trustee Jennifer Story and I decided it was time to put out a reminder that our children need a pandemic recovery plan too, that schools are not back to normal, and they too need a way to truly open back up safely just like the rest of society. Please click here to read our: Op-Ed piece from the Toronto Star.
In schools, this approach needs to be multi-pronged. Many are pieces that we as an organization are putting into effect, such as mandatory vaccines for all TDSB employees. At the Planning and Priorities committee last night, staff provided trustees with an update on the implementation of this procedure. WIth over 40,000 employees, this is painstaking and detail-oriented work, as each case requires due diligence. As of October 28, our compliance rates sit at just over 92%. To learn more, please check out: the slideshow presentation from the meeting.
While ensuring the health and safety of our students and staff is as safe as possible through efforts like mandatory vaccination, this is not the only piece that needs to fall into place. Our high school students are currently in a modifid semester, with alternating weeks of classes, and days with two abnormally long periods separated by a very short lunch. With case counts stalling, and slowly coming down in our city, we have begun advocating again to the Ministry of Education to allow us to move our high schools back to a traditional semester model for Term 2.
Yesterday, for example, the Ontario School Boards' Association issued a letter to Minister Lecce calling for a return to semesters, among other things. As members of OPSBA, we were thrilled to see this Provincial-level advocacy. To give this added prominence, and as the largest public board in the Province, Trustee Aarts and myself plan to introduce a motion next Wednesday in support of OPSBA's advocacy. Click to read: our planned motion.
Please note that in addition to supporting the calls by OPSBA for regular semesters and adding the Covid-19 vaccine to the schedule of vaccines required to attend schools, we also call for the province to release the pandemic funding grant for the second half of this year. This funding is key, as we need to be assured we can plan effectively for Term 2, continuing to ensure the many risk-mitigation efforts and supports remain funded. Finally, we will be asking the ministry to consider the importance of getting as many students back to in-person learning as possible. We know from our own data that this is where the majority of students learn best. While remote learning works for some, safe schools with opportunities for enrichment at every turn are the goal. School is about so much more than just academics: it is where students play, exercise, socialize and develop their emotional and academic skill sets as they grow into adulthood.
As this advocacy moves forward, I will endeavour to keep everyone informed. Please note I have my next coffee morning coming up on November 24, where I will provide the latest news. In addition, I will also be holding elections for positions on PIAC (the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee of the Board) and FSLAC (the French as a Second Language Advisory Committee).
I also want to draw your attention to the registration for French Immersion that opens on November 1st. Please note that entry to early French Immersion begins this fall for Junior Kindergarten (JK) students. For this entry year only, students entering both JK and SK will be eligible (assuming timely application). Thereafter, beginning in 2023, students will enter early FI for Junior Kindergarten only.
For more information, updates, and events, please read on.
Rachel Chernos Lin, TDSB Trustee, Ward 11, Don Valley West
Early French Immersion Application Opens November 1!
The online application process for Early French Immersion (EFI) will be open from November 1 to 26, 2021. Information is communicated as widely as possible. The TDSB wants to reach people currently in our schools, but also surrounding communities and those not currently attending a TDSB school.
Sept. 2022: French Immersion in JK AND SK
NEW: Early Frech Immersion programming will, as of next Fall, start in JK (Junior Kindergarten) instead of SK (Senior Kindergarten), as it has in the past. During the "bridge year' of 2022/2023 (and only this coming year!), students will be allowed to start French Immersion both in JK and SK come September 2022. Students do need to be registered this coming month!
French Immersion Virtual Web Chats
Information Sessions for families interested in the application and placement process for the Early French Immersion program will be held next month. To participate in a live scheduled web chat, please visit the Information Sessions web page. A link will be available there to join on the dates/times as outlined. The sessions are on the following dates (but will no doubt be available to (re)watch afterwards):
- November 8, 2021 - 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
- November 15, 2021 - 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM
- November 23, 2021 - 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Consultations: Specialized Schools & Programs; Parent & Community Involvement
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is committed to open and inclusive policy decision-making and values community input and participation through consultation. Policy development and reviews are carried out in accordance with a policy review schedule that is approved by the Board of Trustees and is revised on a regular basis.
Click to see: the latest Policy Review Schedule. Please find the policy/policies of your interest to see the current draft. You are welcome to provide your comments, including suggestions on the wording and provisions of the draft policies, questions or recommendations using the contact information below.
Parent and Community Involvement Policy
- Objective: To establish a framework for building and supporting parent and community involvement in the Toronto District School Board.
- We are currently reviewing P023 – Parent and Community Involvement Policy and are inviting feedback from our community as we develop the first draft of the policy. Learn more, and share your voice, at www.tdsbengage.ca.
Specialized Schools and Programs Policy
- Objective: To affirm the Board’s commitment to providing focused specialized programming in both local schools and in district-wide specialized schools or programs, and to improving access for all students to these programs.
High School News
Semesters: Based on direction from the Ministry of Education and in line with guidance from public health, the secondary school timetable is currently following a modified semester model where students take four courses, two each during alternating weeks. As stated above, we are currently waiting for a decision from the Ministry of Education on the secondary timetables for Semester 2, which begins on February 3, 2022. We expect a decision to be made in December.
Math: In September, all Ontario school boards implemented the new destreamed Grade 9 Mathematics curriculum. Senior staff and provincial organizations continue to inquire about the Ministry of Education’s plans for Grade 10 Mathematics for the 2022-23 school year. We will continue to update you as we receive more information.
TDSB e-Learning: Semester 2 course registration for TDSB e-Learning will begin on December 6 at 10:00 AM and continue until Friday, February 11, 2022 (though classes are known to fill up very quickly). For more information and to see semester 2 course offerings, click here.
For Graduates and families:
- The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) requirement (the 'grade 10 Literacy test') has been waived for 2021-2022 Graduates this year.
- Community involvement hours have been reduced from 40 to 20 hours for graduates this year. Students are encouraged to participate in virtual community involvement opportunities (Ontario Volunteer Centre Network or Volunteer Toronto)
- A Post-Secondary Information Session was held on October 6. It can be (re)viewed on the Parent and Community Engagement Office (PCEO) YouTube Channel: here.
Now open: Director's Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Awards Applications
For the past ten years, the Director's Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Awards have recognized and honoured GSAs across the Toronto District School Board, but during these last two school years (2019-20 and 2020-21) the GSA Awards were postponed due to the pandemic.
This year, the Director’s GSA Awards is back. We know GSAs have been working hard to support each other while having to pivot to remote learning. During this time, some GSAs transitioned their individual school-based groups online whilst others partnered with grassroots activists and community organizations to connect queer, trans, and non-binary students with even more support. One of the most outstanding initiatives created during the pandemic was the TDSB’s GSA Network, which continues to connect hundreds of staff and students across the school board through incredible broad actions of collective care.
To honour all of this creative work by GSAs to support each other, the TDSB wants to commit to providing the necessary resources for these groups to continue and expand. Therefore, this fall/winter the Director’s GSA Awards will be awarding $1,000 to eight GSAs from across the TDSB that operated during the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 academic school year.
In Spring 2022, four more awards will be announced for GSAs operating during the 2021/22 academic school year.
The application deadline is Friday, December 3, 2021 at 4 p.m
Please send applications to GSAAwards@tdsb.on.ca.
For full application details, click here.
School Immunization Program
Toronto Public Health (TPH) has restarted its publicly funded vaccination pogram for students, in Grade 7 and higher, who need the following vaccines:
- Human papillomavirus, and/or
Updates from Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) / East Toronto Health Network (ETHN)
- Pop-up vaccine clinics: Please see the Toronto East Health Network/Michael Garron hospital website for vaccine clinics this coming week. They offer first and second doses by walk-in to everyone born in 2009 or earlier (i.e. turning age 12 or older this year). Among the nearby locations that have regular clinics, are:
- Thorncliffe Park Community Hub (45 Overlea Blvd)
- Eglinton Square Shopping Centre (Eglinton & Vic Park - enter next to Hudson's Bay)
- Vaccinations for 5-11 year olds: MGH/ETHN are closely following the approval process for the vaccinations for the 5-11 year olds and are working with Toronto Public Health (TPH) and community partners to have a plan ready to provide vaccines to this group as soon as they are able.
At this point the timelines keep shifting and are dependent on Health Canada approval which is expected at some point in November. MGH/ETHN will be working to make vaccines accessible in our community through a combination of local school based clinics and booked appointments.
A number of information session and smaller Q & A’s will be hosted for parents and kids in the next month. Michael Garron Hospital has one scheduled for November 10.
A designated page on the tdsb website - Covid-19 Advisories - provides a list of the active confirmed cases and resolved cases of COVID-19 among students and/or staff in TDSB schools. Please note that all schools where there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 will receive a letter from Toronto Public Health (TPH) to inform them about the possible exposure.
As of October 28, 84 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Ontario's publicly funded schools in the past 14 days. Of those cases, 882 are students, 95 are staff, and three are not identified. Two of the 4,844 schools in the province are currently closed.
In the TDSB, as of October 28 at 5:30, there were 220 student cases (down 22 from last Friday) and 33 staff cases (up two) with 185 cases resolved. No TDSB schools are closed.
School Councils / Parent & Community Engagement information
- 2021-2022 School Council Interim Operations (elections, meetings, bylaws, fundraising)
Note: school council fundraising can begin in November.
- Parent Reaching Out Grant Allocation for 2021-2022
- School Council Resource Tools (link to website and school council tech support webpage with information on school council access to Zoom, School Messenger, Email, and Wifi)
Note: School councils now have access to School Messenger.
- Interim Expectations for Parent/Family Engagement in the School Improvement Process.
Note: The 2021-2022 proposed interim expectations for school teams will focus on: explaining the school improvement process and the value of family involvement in it. Principals will seek input on the initial thinking regarding SIP goals with the school council (as required under Regulation 613) and from all parents and caregivers, particularly those, under-represented and under-served. Share School Data wit parents/caregiver on (Wellbeing, Equity, and Achievement).
School Council Training 2021-22
Welcome to School Council!
This Fall, the Parent & Community Engagement Office (PCEO) is organizing several training sessions to help parents optimize their time on Council:
Leading School Council
- Wednesday, November 3 - 6:30pm
- Tuesday, November 9 - 10:00am
- Wednesday, November 10 - 6:30pm
- Tuesday, November 16- 6:30pm
School Council Bylaws
- Thursday, November 18 - 10:00am
- Tuesday, November 23- 6:00pm
- Thursday, November 25- 6:00pm
More information available: here.
tdsbHUB.ca is a collaboration between the Toronto District School Board Community Support Workers team (CSWs) and the families, students and communities that they work with. CSWs work with Model Schools (app. 150 of TDSB's 500+ schools), but most of the resources and events offered are useful for, and available to, everybody.
The website features a new toolkit created with Social Workers for parents and caregivers. It explains the range of services offered to support the whole child. They are here to help and support.
Other elements of the tdsbHUB.ca website are
Lastly, please mark your Calendar with the dates of our next two Community Coffee mornings:
- November 24 (includes PIAC election), and
- January 12, 2022.
Virtual Mental Health Support
TDSB Professional Support Services offers virtual drop-in hours for parents and caregivers to discuss strategies to help support the mental health and well-being of your child.
There are sessions open to all (Tuesdays 10-11am; Thursdays 7-8pm) and a special drop-in for parents/caregivers of students with special/complex needs (Wednesdays 7-8pm).
Halloween Safety Tips
Halloween provides an opportunity for parents and children to spend time together creating costumes, carving pumpkins, planning trick or treat activities and participating in family parties. Hallowe'en is a big event at schools and provides opportunities for parties, creative activities, art programs and impromptu history lessons. Hallowe'en is also a time for students, parents, and schools to take extra care to ensure safety and security.
Trick or Treating
If parents are concerned about trick or treating, here are some basic safety rules to follow:
- Children should NEVER eat any treats until parents have had a chance to go through them and inspect them. Parents should look for tampering of packages and discard any they believe to be unsafe or unknown.
- Have your child carry a flashlight.
- NEVER go into a stranger's house.
- NEVER trick or treat with people you do not know
- Trick or treat only at homes you know
- Children should always stay in groups if no parent is present
- Younger children should ALWAYS be accompanied by an older person
- Accompany your child when trick or treating
- If you can not accompany your child then know the route your child will take
- Flame resistant (retardant) costumes are in order. Keep costumes short and remind children to stay away from pumpkins with candles in them
- Remind children to stay away from pets they do not know
- Remind children of road safety rules. Cross only at corners. Do not criss-cross the road. Go up one side of the road and down the other side. Never cross between parked cars. Walk facing on-coming traffic if there is no sidewal
- If adults are driving their children, drive slowly, with lights on and be cautious when pulling to the side of the road.
- Children should wear their own shoes when trick or treating. Wearing costume shoes/boots can be dangerous and uncomfortable.
- Remind children that not everyone celebrates Hallowe'en, and to avoid any homes that have no lights on. Also remind children not to run through neighbours yards or gardens.
- With older children, be sure to know what other events (such as parties) they plan on attending.
- Set time limits when children should return home.
November is Indigenous Education Month
November is Indigenous Education Month at the Toronto District School Board. It is important to centre First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, contemporary realities and voices. For classrooms across the TDSB, this is an opportunity to learn from Indigenous perspectives on treaties, Indigenous leadership, achievements, resistance and creativity.
Truth and Reconciliation is a guiding principle at the TDSB. Throughout November, students, staff and community members will engage in meaningful opportunities to learn together on our shared histories and to build stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
Days of Significance for Indigenous Education Month:
- Treaties Recognition Week, November 1 - 5;
- International Inuit Day, November 7;
- Indigenous Veterans Day, November 8;
- Louis Riel Day, November 16.
The Urban Indigenous Education Centre will be hosting a number of events to support students and staff to learn from Indigenous people. Guests will include: Elder Dr. Duke Redbird, Elder Naulaq LeDrew, Jason Madden, Tasha Spillet, Dr. Pamela Palmater, Ange Loft, Tauni and Albie Sheldon, Traditional Knowledge Practitioner - Clayton Shirt, Dr. Pamela Rose Toulouse, Tanya Talaga, David A. Robertson, Shanese Steele, James Jones - Notorious Cree, Alyssa and Conlin Delbaere-Sawchuk, Jean Teillet, and Theola Ross.
Follow @UIEC_TDSB on Twitter for updates on Indigenous Education Month at the TDSB.
2021-2022 School Year Calendar
The last day of class is June 30 (for elementary students) or June 29 (for secondary students).
There are no classes for students on the dates listed below (first next Board wide PA day is November 19).
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments or concerns.
Have a wonderful weekend,
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.