Boardroom Newsbrief - March 31, 2020

The Newsbrief is meant to provide the highlights of the decisions made at the Board meeting for the benefit of our community. The notes do not serve as the official record of the meeting. Please refer to Board or Committee minutes.

For full agenda package prepared ahead of this meeting, visit this link.

Briefing from the Chair of the Board

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Introduction & COVID-19

Let me begin by noting the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in.

The Director will speak more about how our District is responding to the COVID-19 emergency, but I wanted to start by saying thank you to the first responders risking their lives to help.

I also wanted to say thank you to students, parents, staff, Trustees and community members for doing your part during this time.

If these past few weeks have taught us something, it is the value of coming together. While we cannot be in the same room tonight, I am glad we have been able to meet virtually.

Community Concerns Regarding Trustee Blackburn

I wanted to acknowledge an incident which occurred this past week between Trustee Blackburn and a community resident. We are not aware of all of the details related to this specific incident, but we are very concerned about the allegations of racism and bias that this has generated.

I note that there are members of the public joining us tonight to discuss this matter. I would like to be clear that we take your concerns seriously and are looking into this incident. The Director of Education has spoken with the family and the OCDSB Human Rights and Equity Advisor will review this matter.

Once our review has been completed, we will report out on any specific actions, initiatives and/or recommendations for change.

Labour Update

Finally, I would like to share some positive news.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has reached tentative central agreements with the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and the Council of Trustees’ Associations.

ETFO is suspending strike action immediately pending the results of its central ratification votes.

It should further be noted that in response to COVID-19, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation has announced it is immediately suspending all strike sanctions indefinitely.

This includes sanctions that were part of a limited withdrawal of administrative services that have been in place since last November.

We remain hopeful that an agreement can soon be reached.

Briefing from the Director

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COVID-19 Update - Focus on Business Continuity

Earlier I provided an overview of system operations during this period of closure.  I want to acknowledge the Chair’s messages of appreciation and add my own thanks to our staff, our families and our students - your support and patience is greatly appreciated.

As we move forward with the extended closure period, our focus will be on sustaining operations to support learning at home.  As an organization, this will mean reassessing some of our planned work and ensuring that our top priorities are the health and safety of staff and students, and ensuring continuity of learning during this closure period. 

While we may not make progress on some of our planned work, we are finding that many of our solutions are rooted in our commitment to a culture of caring and social responsibility and we are inspired by the innovative solutions being found to problems we had never previously considered.

Today’s announcement will help to shape the plans that we have been working on for the next phase of the closure  and ensure full alignment with the provincial education strategy.

Finally, a reminder to everyone to continue to follow the physical distancing recommendations of health authorities.

Take care of yourself and each other.

Public Motions

Trustees approved the following:

  • Confirmation of Board Minutes – 25 February 2020 (Board), 5 March 2020 (Special Board) and 16 March 2020
  • Receipt of Committee of the Whole Report, 3 March 2020
  • Receipt of Committee of the Whole Budget Report, 4 February 2020
  • Report 20-031, Academic Staffing 2020-2021
  • Report 20-026, New Stittsville Secondary School Project Expenditure Budget Approval

Advisory Committee Review deferred until September 2020

Meeting ended at 10:32 pm

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