Boardroom Newsbrief - May 26, 2020

Boardroom Newsbrief - May 26, 2020
Posted on 05/27/2020
Boardroom Newsbrief - May 26, 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.

The following video includes the Committee of the Whole and Board meeting held on May 26. The Board meeting starts at 2:13:00.

Briefing from the Chair of the Board

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School Closures

Last week, the Ontario government extended the closure of publicly-funded schools until the end of the school year. This news was disappointing, but the health and safety of students and staff remains our highest priority. 

I would like to reiterate my appreciation to all of our staff and our community members for their commitment to supporting student learning and well-being during this closure.

As part of his announcement, the Minister of Education stated that he would be releasing a plan later in June to assist schools in preparing for the re-opening of schools in September.

Today, we learned that the Ministry has launched a consultation on their plan and they are receiving feedback by email. A link to that plan has been added to the supplemental items under the COVID-19 update on this agenda.

Our staff is working locally and with the Ministry to plan for the opportunity to welcome students again in September. More information will be shared with parents and students as soon as it’s available.

School Councils

Last week, a memo was sent to School Councils regarding end of year planning and finalizing any outstanding school council business.

I would like to take a moment, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, to express my sincere thanks to all of our school council volunteers. Even through the closure period, councils have been interacting with principals and families and have done some wonderful things to support families in need in our communities.

Unfortunately, physical distancing restrictions prevent many of the in-person end of year gatherings or celebrations that school councils would usually hold. It also prevents our own Volunteer Appreciation Reception, where we usually have the opportunity to thank council members directly.

Labour Relations Update

I am happy to report that the central agreements with teachers and education workers represented by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation have now been ratified.

This follows from the ratification of central agreements with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario we shared last month.

Briefing from the Director

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Eid Mubarak

Wishing Eid Mubarak to everyone in our community celebrating the end of Ramadan.

We will have a COVID-19 update in our agenda this evening. But I did want to acknowledge some of the incredible initiatives taking place in our Board before we begin.

School Supplies for Students

To help our students learn at home, we have now delivered more than 11,000 Chromebooks and over 1000 Internet Hotspots to students in need.

And, thanks to the work of many people including the Education Foundation of Ottawa’s Executive Director, Clarissa Arthur, emergency school supplies have been collected and distributed to 700 Ottawa children in need. Bags of school supplies were delivered to help students participate in learning at home activities.

Growing Learners

It has been amazing to see our educators try new innovative approaches to combine learning and supporting students. 

Partnering with the Education Foundation, Just Foods and Ottawa Good Food Box, we were able to start delivering food boxes and garden packages to approximately 1000 students. The packages come with learning materials about how to grow vegetables at home. They are also designed for students who may live in an apartment and do not have access to outdoor space.

#ThankYouFromOCDSB Campaign

Last month, the OCDSB launched a thank you campaign to essential workers. Students have shared more than 450 letters, pictures and videos.

We have taken these materials and sent them to local organizations across this city. Students and parents should be happy to know they have been very well received. They are now on display in local hospitals, have been shared through employee newsletters, and highlighted on social media.

Public Motions

Trustees approved the following:

  • Confirmation of Board Minutes, 28 April 2020 (Board), 12 May 2020 (Special Board)
  • Report 20-046, Appointments to the Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) for 7 July 2020 to 7 July 2021
    • Trustees Boothby and Penny appointed as the two directors to the OPSBA Board of Directors, the voting and alternate delegates for the Eastern Regional Council meetings, and the voting and alternate delegates for the OPSBA Annual General meeting
    • Trustees Bell and Campbell appointed as the two alternate directors to the OPSBA Board of Directors
  • Report 20-050, Revised Secondary Teacher Staffing for 2020-2021

Matters for Discussion

COVID-19 Update

Education Director Camille Williams-Taylor provided an update to Trustees on the OCDSB response to COVID-19:

With the extension of school closures until the end of June, we are continuing with OCDSB LearnAtHome.  Teachers continue to support students using a range of practice. It has been incredible to watch our staff work with such care and innovation in support of student learning and well-being.  Over the past two weeks, I have had an opportunity to do virtual school visits with superintendents and have met teachers, educational assistants, early child educators, administrators and many other incredible educational support workers.  I have been inspired by the work they are doing and the energy and enthusiasm they bring to our students.  We have much to be proud of.

Special Education Services and Programs – this district has a strong commitment to supporting students with special education needs.  That commitment continues through the learn at home period.  I am pleased to advise you that:

  • Working in partnership with SickKids and other stakeholders, we have been able to put a plan in place to restart the Empower Reading Program. AOver the past two months we have been reinforcing and consolidating learning with Empower strategies.  We will now be in a position to provide the delivery of Empower lessons online.   The expectation is that any student who started Empower during the 2019-2020 school year will be provided with an opportunity to complete the program either now, or in the fall.
  • We have also been able to create a new parent web based site with resources to support students who are non-verbal or minimally-verbal.  Speech-Language Pathologists have created this compilation of robust resources to support parents during the pandemic and beyond. This complements the existing AAC website for all OCDSB staff. 
  • Mental Health Supports continue to be developed for students and staff.Since our last meeting we offered a series of staff workshops about supporting mental health and these were very well attended.  Plans are underway to continue this work.

Pick Up of Student Belongings – We know that parents and students are very interested in accessing schools in order to pick up student belongings.  Work is underway on the development of a comprehensive plan for this which takes into consideration the safety of students, parents and staff.  There will be some tailoring of the plans to meet the unique needs of elementary and secondary students.   Parents can expect an announcement on this next week with pick up scheduled for later in the month.

Graduation Celebrations – we invited grade 12 students to share their thoughts about how we might celebrate their graduation and recognize physical distancing.  We had a tremendous response and lots of great ideas.  A summary of their feedback is included in tonight’s agenda.  Using the student’s ideas, as well as input from school staff, we are developing a district wide strategy for celebration of students this spring while reserving the formal ceremonies in the fall.  Key criteria in the planning are developing a strategy which ensures student safety, equity of access, and celebrates all students in the district.  In the next week, we will be ready to release the details to school staff, students, and parents.  Stay tuned.  

Also will highlight that the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Sun are putting together a special graduation section and are inviting students to share their grad outfits, photos and speeches online, on their social media channels and in special Citizen print sections on June 18, 19 and 20. To be included in the print editions, the deadline for submission is June 12.  We are promoting this information to all of our grade 12 students.

Leaving Ceremonies – at the elementary level, we will be holding “virtual” leaving ceremonies for students transitioning to new schools in September.  This primarily involves grade 8 and grade 6 students, but we do have some additional transition points in this district.  The goal is to have virtual celebrations which respect the school tradition and context, are equitable, maintain student privacy and are readily available to families to enjoy.  

Planning for Re-opening of Schools and Buildings – The Ministry has announced that there will be province wide directives regarding the re-opening of schools in September.  While we await provincial direction, we have initiated discussions about what re-opening could like; what safety mechanisms need to be in place; and how we manage access to buildings and services.  In addition to the Ministry direction, we are working with Ottawa Public Health and with other school districts to ensure our planning is in alignment with other school districts.  

DELF – There were questions about the DELF – Diplome des etudes de langue Francaise.  The dates for the international administration of the DELF are established by the CIEP, the governing body for the administration of the DELF.  The only dates scheduled for Canada in the spring this year were early April/May and June. All three administrations were cancelled. We are awaiting further information regarding potential future dates for Canadian administration.

As we move forward there continue to be more questions and issues for consideration.  We are continuing to work to get answers to these questions.  We know that both teachers and parents are looking for updates on report cards. We are awaiting a Ministry memo which will clarify some of the outstanding questions.  We will provide updates to the community as soon as we can.

OPSBA Update

Trustee Boothby reflected recent activities of OPSBA.

Meeting ended at 10:50 pm

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