Learn At Home and Planning Forward Survey Results

Process and Participation Rates

Students, parents/guardians, and staff members were asked to:

Answer survey questions: Participants responded to multiple-choice questions about demographic characteristics, their experience learning or working from home, and priorities for September.

Participants were then asked to respond to the question “What are the most important things we need to think about when planning for September?” 

Share thoughts: Participants responded to an open-ended question about the important things we need to think about when planning for September. All thoughts were shared with other participants, exactly as they were entered.   

Star points of view: Participants were asked to review the thoughts of others and rate them based on how much they agree (5 stars) or disagree (1 star).  This helped to identify the ideas that are most important to the group.

Discover what matters: Participants have the opportunity to learn about the group’s shared values and priorities.  Even those who didn’t participate in the previous steps can view the thoughts, sorted by overall rating, as well as ‘hot topics’ which capture different ideas that were rated highly by the group. 

Participation Rate during Survey, Share and Star:

28,119 Participants

49,734 Thoughts Shared

1,122,269 Star Ratings Assigned






















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Survey Responses from Parents/Guardians

Open-Ended Feedback from Elementary Parents/Guardians

Top themes and examples of corresponding quotes


  • Want more time learning; more interaction with teachers;

    “The distance learning we had served as an emergency measure, but is not adequate going forward. Kids need full-time, interactive, access to teachers. An hour or two of group chat per week isn’t enough teaching. We had assignments, but very little actual teaching or feedback.”

  • Clarity and consistency in expectations;

    “Consistent expectations across all disciplines. Some teachers were engaged and had regular sessions with the students while others did not. There should be minimum standards for all classes offered”

  • Parents feel overwhelmed; they are not able to take on the role of the teacher;

    “Parents cannot be expected to complete their Work obligations while simultaneously supporting their childs educational needs -it is an unrealistic expectation and not sustainable”

  • Delivery of online-learning needs to be interactive;

    “For both hybrid and full online schooling, the online delivery needs to change. If we move to more online - students need face to face time with teachers every day, live lessons and one on one help and tutoring.”

  • Safety; school cleanliness;

    “We are in the high risk group, we want some direction on what the health and safety procedures are going to be. We want to keep our children as safe as possible”

  • Access to child care; safety of child care;

    “With the hybrid model, parents with young children will need to find alternate care on days they are not at school. This will expose children to more children as they will have their cohort they attend school with and their daycare cohort.”

  • Two days a week is not enough, kids need full-time school;

    “Children must be at school for them to learn effectively. This means no part time schooling. Classrooms can be cleaned overnight. With a hybrid model children will be with multiple caregivers on the days off school leading to increased risks Should be at school 5 days every week”

  • Parents need to be able to work full-time;

    “Parents need to work! I am a single mom, working as a nurse. Getting my child to and from school is already difficult enough. I don’t have a choice to work from home!”

  • Want to know the plan as soon as possible;

    “Clear guidance about how schools will function in the fall needs to be given to families in good time to make decisions. All details are vague right now.”

  • Kids need to socialize, interact with peers;

    Children need to socialize. They need to feel connected with others and feel human. We need to create some opportunities for them to interact and not just with a screen.”

  • Keep siblings together;

    “Putting siblings on combined days. If parents are expected to work, because the economy is opening up, and siblings are not on combined days, you will be adding unnecessary stress”

  • Hire more teachers and use community space for more classrooms;

“If we want smaller classes we should hire more teachers. Our students are legally entitled to a full time education. There are lots of community centers, church basements, and library conference rooms etc in our community that could be used as additional rooms.”

  • Being prepared for another wave of COVID-19;

    “Expectations and protocols for what happens if someone at school contracts COVID-19 should be clearly established at the beginning of the year Having these protocols clearly explained at the beginning will decrease anxiety and stress.” 

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Open-Ended Feedback from Secondary Parents/Guardians

Top themes and examples of corresponding quotes

  • Importance of social-emotional well-being and mental health;

    “Mental Health is a health concern too! There are serious consequences (depression, frustration, etc) for kids when you keep them at home. Staring at computer screens is no replacement for an engaging classroom. The Toronto Sick Kids' report was clear.”

  • Screen time;

    “Full time online learning for kids in grade 5-6 is not efficient and most kids in that group age will have difficulties in managing screen times. This is important for the kid's mental health and also for their learning outcomes”

  • Ensure learning experience, coverage of complete curriculum, and maintain options for course selection;

    Ensure the learning experience and curriculum is complete especially for secondary school , soon to enter university. Lessons should not be skipped/ there should be no gaps in knowledge that puts students at a disadvantage later.”

  • Need personal connection, interactive teaching to engage and motivate students;

    “One of the most difficult aspects of learn from home for my child was the lack of personal connection with teachers. And lack of lessons and feedback Without actual videos and lessons and feedback on assignments, it is very hard to stay motivated and engaged.”

  • Desire for marks, feedback, homework;

    “Marking & Feedback Students need to know their hard work will be reflected in grades and therefore need regular marks and feedback.”

  • Importance of safety, cleanliness, and staying home when sick;

    “Safety Students but also staff need to be protected from the spread of Covid. Stringent safety protocols need to be clearly stated and followed by all.”

  • Online is ok, but needs to involve interactive teaching;

    “Children need face-to-face connection with their educators, whatever model is chosen. It is vital for their well-being. If part time or all virtual, one-on-one chats or more than once a week live google meets would be beneficial to establish more routine and trust.”

  • Importance of social-emotional well-being and mental health;

    “The social emotional well being of students. Children are social beings that need to interact face to face with their peers and educators.”

  • Clarity and consistency in expectations;

    “Clear expectations for assignments. With different teachers came different communication. Open ended assignments are not helpful. Unclear guidelines for returned work - we didn't know what was needed. Open assignments to "write something" not helpful for working parents.”

  • Accountability for existing teachers and need for more teachers/support;

    “Get more help. Hire additional teachers & teaching assistants; pay overtime and enlist VOLUNTEERS to help with support duties. Last semester was a disaster. Stressful for everyone and a pedagogical failure. Let's learn from it and set an example for the whole world to admire!”

  • Improve use of platforms/resources;

    “All classes need to follow same platforms, not every teacher using different systems. A couple teaches offered 1 or 2 lessons total from March to June, some gave no instructions at all & some were very good with reg video instruction”

  • Students need structure and accountability;

    “Highschool students still need structure. There are few kids in Gr 9 who are self motivated to learn and can structure their own day. Having a school schedule will bring routine back”

  • Parents find it difficult to take on the role of teacher;

    “Parents Teaching Children. Parents are NOT teachers - providing a lessons and material once a week is not teaching. The responsible is left on the parents to teach the children.”

  • Want maximum time in the classroom;

    “OCDSB needs to innovate and do everything possible to ensure students are in school the maximum number of days per week, more than 2/week for sure. learning from home is not an effective substitute for being in the classroom”

  • Technology training for educators;

    “Teachers must be trained on using technology and on teaching it to our kids. Many teachers did very poorly with online education because they could not handle technology.”

  • Having hands-on experience, access to labs;

    “in person learning - high school students need to have access to labs, small group discussions, to prepare for post secondary environment all virtual learning environment can result in lack of engagement.”

  • Being prepared for another wave of COVID-19;

“Have preparations to pivot to home learning if COVID cases go up or outbreak occurs in school. We need agile planning and open communication about how outbreaks will be addressed.”

  • Personalized approach to learning;

“Students learn differently and teachers should be able to determine the best strategies/tasks for their students. Teachers spend time getting to know their students, their strengths and their learning needs. A one-size fits all approach does not serve all students.”

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Open-Ended Feedback from Students

Top themes and examples of corresponding quotes


  • For many students, learning from home works well; students want to stay home and stay safe, but want to ensure they are not penalized for it;

“Planning how students learning at home will receive the same quality of education as those who physically go to the school Students shouldn't have to sacrifice their education because they want to stay safe”

  • University readiness, full coverage of curriculum;

“Making sure the grade 12’s are ready for university It’s their last year of high school and need guidance as well as proper teaching before they go to university.”

  • Want improved communication from teachers;

“Ensure that teachers communicate to the best of their abilities. The lack of communication these past months caused frustration and resentment. The more teachers and students stay on top of one another, the better”

  • Want to know the plan as soon as possible;

“Answers and plans being provided as soon as possible As a graduating student knowing what to expect is important to me to allow for planning. It is also important for families with children to make plans”

  • Concern about workload, online learning requires more effort;

“To make sure that teachers are not over working us while learning online. It’s important because while teachers may think that online school is more easy than regular school but in reality it can cause more stress.”

  • Want interaction, recorded lessons from teachers;

“Teachers should provide more recorded lessons and less random videos from the internet. Our teachers teach from the curriculum and in a certain way. It's confusing if the way they are teaching doesn't line up with what the video is saying”

  • School cleanliness, soap in washrooms;

“Hand washing. before the pandemic there was never soap in the bathrooms, so if were going back there has to be places to wash our hands”

  • Safety, physical distancing, staying home when sick;

“kids with any sickness or symptoms should not be allowed to attended in class school I don't want to get infected if the hybrid method is under way”

  • Technology training for educators;

“I think it’s really important for the teachers to be provided with ressources to successfully teach online. Some of my teachers had no google meets and didn’t post any videos because they didn’t know how. This really prohibited my learning.”

  • Concern about meeting requirement for volunteer hours;

“Please exempt us (12th graders) from the requirement to fulfill 40 hours of community service. I moved here in the 11th grade and have been so busy with moving and settling. I would love to volunteer and give to the community, but I can’t.”

  • Quality use of the time in the physical classroom;

“If hybrid is used, time in physical class should be spent teaching, clarifying, answering questions, labs and other things that can’t be done at home. Instead of spending that time doing essays or worksheets (which can be done at home), it should be spent learning and seeing if students need help”

  • Structure, consistency, and clarity of expectations;

“Detailed plans for all teachers. There needs to be a cohesive plan between teachers for how the lessons work: how they are written, delivered, informative and helpful for all students”

  • Concern about missed material last year;

“Teachers should review material that was covered online this year. Especially for courses that require preliminary understanding (eg. Grade 12 chem) Due to COVID-19 being so sudden a lot of material was lost or not properly taught this year. Next year, if teachers reviewed material it would help.”

  • Social emotional well-being and mental health;

“Mental health should be a priority.”

  • Desire for feedback on work and clarity on evaluations;

“Clarification on Exams, Mid-terms, Tests. Basically clarification on any evalutations I want to know how much time I should be putting for each of my classes because I don't want to waste my time or the teachers, time is scarce as it is”

  • Challenge staying motivated;

“ Motivation. Lots of people lost Motivation through this time so we need to make sure that everyone is still keeping up with the work”

  • Transportation;

“Transportation. Many students are required to take buses to and from school. The current bus system at LDH is horrible. Cramming kids onto a bus will no longer work.”

  • Desire for human interaction;

“i would gladly take protective measures in order to go back to school full time human interaction is very important for emotional and mental health and growth”

  • Personalization of learning;

“In my opinion, one of the most crucial things to remember is that every student is different and that a change of learning will affect them. Personally, I excelled during the virtual school we ended up with this year, however my siblings struggled. Allow students to do what works for them”

  • Use of platforms;

“Teachers are using too many different platforms. Choosing only one platform (google classroom is best) makes it easier to manage everything in one spot and stay organized”

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Survey Responses from Educators

Open-Ended Feedback from Educators

Top themes and examples of corresponding quotes


  • Need for student/staff screening protocols; need explicit guidelines for sick students and staff to stay home;

“We need to be able to stay home/ send students home. Pressure to keep up/ stick it out needs to change The existing culture around illness must change. Currently staff and students come in even if ‘under the weather.’ Parents MUST keep sick kids home.”

  • Class sizes and need for physical distancing;

“Reduce class sizes to help ensure physical distancing measures. Better guidance is needed to help teachers manage crowd control issues - how to best set up classrooms; how to move through hallways…”

  • Occasional teacher coverage;

“Occasional teachers should only be assigned to one school. Otherwise, the cohort will not exist any time a teacher is absent for whatever reason. We have learned from long term care homes that workers spread disease when working in more than one home.” 

  • Educator sick days; 

“Please inform us of sick leave and health plan coverage if teachers and support staff get covid during the school year. How are we protected/insured? We are expected to be at school but if we get sick, how much coverage do we have? Thinking of single income homes…” 

  • Cleaning; need more custodial and support staff;

“Cleaning protocols must be enhanced and this should both be closely monitored as well as provided by sanitation staff - not a teacher expectation. Custodial staff require much more training, time and resources to absolutely ensure that proper cleaning takes place each day.” 

  • Access to and availability of health and safety resources/materials;

“PPE. Who will provide staff with PPE equipment?” 

  • Educator workload; concerns about teaching in-class and providing support online at the same time; equity and sharing/balancing workload among homeroom and non-homeroom teachers;

“The workload for teachers, regardless of what implementation plan is chosen, must be reasonable, feasible. Because wellness it not just  important for students, but for teachers as well.”

  • Opportunities/Need for PD, training;

“Online Learning can be successful if we are all on the same page and have the necessary resources. The spring is a poor reflection of online learning. It’s was an emergency situation and teachers were learning. If teachers are given proper training and resources it could work better.” 

  • Social-emotional well-being and mental health;

“Mental health support and resources needed: I'm expecting heightened mental health issues related to anxiety when we return. What supports will be available to access for my students?”

  • Student engagement; higher expectations; participation in online learning;

“Mandatory online learning. By saying online learning didn’t count toward assessment, it allowed students to check out.”

  • Clarity in expectations;

“Clear expectations for parents about what teachers can and cannot do. Hopefully the Board will define the expectations of teachers clearly so that parents (or older students) understand what is being asked of teachers.”

  • Young learners; students with special needs and/or behavioural issues; 

“KINDERGARTEN - how can we expect 3/4/5 year olds to social distance? What about shared toys? We need CLEAR direction on how to lead a play based program while ensuring safety.”

  • Clear policies and communications with staff; what happens if a suspected case; student/staff screening protocols;

“Clear and transparent process for addressing illnesses. Flow chart to ensure that the protocol is clear and understood and then followed”

  • Shared materials; access to learning tools;

“Tools - we need clear direction on what things students can and can't use or share. Books, pencils, art supplies, sharpeners ect... Will they have their own bin of supplies? Who will create those bins and sanitize them?”

  • Online resources;

“What type of online learning resources will the board be providing? Kids need access to digital books and learning materials. There are good resources online but with free subscriptions ending, I cannot provide them.”

  • Timely communication to allow for planning; inclusion; need to feel heard;

“Communicate with us in a timely manner. A plan being emailed at 4:30 on Friday of summer vacation felt like we were not a welcome part of the team.”

  • Student engagement; higher expectations;

“The students need clear expectations of the amount of work, working hours, and class attendance needed for them to be successful while they are home. Learning-at-home was too loose, no consistency between classes, student engagement was poor, little motivation when kids knew marks would not go down”

  • Need for educator consistency;

“Consistent expectations for all staff are needed. If we have a blended model upon return, we ALL need to be doing the same thing. This summer, some of our colleagues stepped up while some did not.”

  • Access to various common spaces; ensuring safe procedures for shared use;

“Workspace for teaching staff: Secondary teachers don't have their own classrooms for prep. How will common space/materials/equipment be shared?”

  • Allow time for planning and collaboration; 

“Create time for teachers to have grade meetings so resources can be shared, team planning can happen etc. In spring, there was nowhere near enough time to collaborate with fellow teachers. Maybe alternate division meetings with grade meetings weekly.”

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Survey Responses from Staff

Themes were originally produced for each group (elementary, secondary, and staff who supported multiple grades/divisions) but then collapsed for ease of interpretation, given the substantial overlap.

Open-Ended Feedback from Staff

Top themes and examples of corresponding quotes


  • Need for physical distancing;

    “If physical distancing is a key factor in disrupting this disease, how is the board going to ensure that in classes with 25 students in small rooms? At risk staff seem to be forgotten in all the discussions about reopening.”

  • Staff sick days; returning to work after becoming ill;

    “IF I contracted the virus and then asked to self quarantine for 15 days, does that mean I have to use all my sick days leave? This is important as we have less than 14 days of sick leave so where does this leave us in case of contracting the virus?”

  • Cleaning; need more custodial and support staff;

    “Increasing custodian capacity for cleaning. Desks, washrooms, touch points need frequent cleaning”

  • Access to and availability of health and safety resources/materials;

    “Safety and Cleanliness. there has to be regular cleaning and sanitizing; and employees must have access to sanitizer in the office and meeting rooms, bathrooms, etc.”

  • Educator workload; concerns about teaching in-class and providing support online at the same time;

    “For a hybrid model (half of the students are physically in school at one time) two teachers are needed: one for in-class and one for online teaching. A teacher will need the whole day to take care of the online portion of teaching. How can the same teacher have time for in class teaching?”

  • Social-emotional well-being and mental health;

    “We will have to consider everyone's mental health. Returning to school is bound to cause some stress for students, staff and family members. You can't work or learn properly if you are stressed and worried about the corona virus possibly being spread in our schools.”

  • Clear policies and communications with staff; what happens if a suspected case;

    “Informing staff on the COVID-19 policies and being respectful to choices and requirements of all colleagues and students. All employees need to know what new policies are put in place so there are no misunderstandings and direction is clear.”

  • Need student/staff screening protocols and guidelines;

    “Screening left with parents is not sufficient as it will be inconsistent - a strong controlled protocol will need to be put into place. Many international schools have strong protocols in place for screening and social distancing - leaving screening to parents is not reliable”

  • Timely communication to allow for planning;

    “Sharing a clear plan for September as early as possible. Teachers prepare in the summer in order to manage the heavy workload. We need to know what we are preparing for.”

  • Need to feel heard;

    “We are all stressed and worried. COVID19 is very real and dangerous. We need to know the Board is listening and there for us. We need to know there is a plan and that our best interests are at the forefront.”

  • Opportunities/Need for PD, training;

    “How will we be given time to learn any new technologies for online teaching. If in a mixed" setting (online/in person) are teachers being given enough PD-time to not have to work insane hours to learn new technologies”

  • Planning for a return;

    “A plan should include the Do's and Don'ts of high touch surfaces or traffic areas and desanitizing products should be made available. To ensure distancing each Admin. Building Dept. should have a floor access/route plan in place. Mandatory wearing of Masks away from workstation .”

  • Need to feel safe when transitioning back from work at home;

    “Social distancing, cleaning and contact tracing. I am comfortable, safe and productive working from home.I need to feel confident that a return to work is going to be safe.”

  • Access to various common spaces (vehicles, exercise rooms, lunch rooms, etc.); ensuring safe procedures for shared use;

“How will staff access lunch rooms, common facility spaces and shared devices ie. refrigerators, vending machines, cafeterias and microwaves. Breaks and lunch are paramount to maintain daily energy levels and provide crucial rest time.”

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Integration of the Results and Next Steps

Staff has begun using the qualitative and quantitative data presented in this report to inform planning for September. This includes integration with other data sources, such as emails from parents and students, and delegations from the community during the Board Meeting on July 9, 2020. The feedback that was gathered from these sources further supported the themes captured above.

The community is encouraged to also explore the thoughts shared using the Discover Pages. Within these pages, you can view all thoughts ranked by average rating, ‘hot topics’ (which show the most relevant thoughts that cover some of the major topics that emerged), and your own activity if you participated in previous steps of the exchange. Links to these pages can be accessed below:

Next steps will involve further exploration of the data. Cross-tabulations of the survey data and exploration of the open-ended thoughts (based on responses to specific survey questions) will help inform tailored supports, tip-sheets for staff, frequently asked questions, plans for students with special education and/or mental health needs, and so on. Meetings with various departments and managers are already underway to ensure that departments are empowered to use the Discover Dashboards to inform their work.

Themes were originally produced for each group (elementary, secondary, and staff who work in administration buildings) but then collapsed for ease of interpretation, given the substantial overlap.

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