Dear Parents and Guardians,
On Tuesday, we received the Ministry of Education’s latest document: Ontario’s Framework for Continued Learning.
This document begins to formally address directions to re-open schools in September by stating that “the ministry will formulate guidance for school boards before the end of the school year to allow for adequate time to put appropriate adaptations in place.”
As we continue to gather information and discuss the reopening of our elementary school, we will focus on the following three areas of importance that we believe will underlie an educational experience that will move fluently between in-person and online delivery. The ministry has also identified this as a likely possibility.
1. Safety precautions and protocols for students and staff
The ministry report states that “new health and safety protocols will be developed with the advice of public health and the Ministry of Labour… these protocols will need to include guidance on cleaning protocols, the use of personal and protective equipment.”
While we wait for ministry guidance, we are identifying necessary safety resources and social distancing possibilities in schools and classrooms that may be required to ensure staff and student safety. Our plan is to ensure protocols are in place for staff and student safety. The required equipment/resources to ensure safety protocols will also be in place.
2. The educational experience for our students (what will learning look like?)
The ministry report states that “the look of classrooms and the rhythm of the school day may need to be adapted to keep students safe while maximizing learning opportunities.” If students move in and out of the classroom due to health issues related to COVID -19, “the ministry, parents and students will continue to expect that teachers utilize synchronous learning approaches.”
We have met with students in Grade 3 to 8 this week to gather feedback on their online learning experience. This feedback has proven to be beneficial. We will continue to gather feedback from parents and teachers.
Integrating online learning with in-class learning will be a priority. In particular, we will focus on procedures to fluently move our teaching practices in and out of the classroom as may be required by ministry directives. We are also reviewing technology to give students access to their classrooms in real-time as they and their families are in quarantine for specific periods.
In the new year, student attendance (i.e during online and in-class learning) will be monitored. Effective methods of student assessment while in an online learning period will be a priority, and the learning experience online will be broadened to include science labs, art classes, etc.
3. Mitigation of the unique learning needs of some of our students and the mental health needs of students and staff overall
Hudson will address unique learning needs (ie. students with IEPs) as required by specific students if online learning continues. As noted by the ministry, “structured group environments, physical education and connection with peers are a critical aspect of mental health for children. While keeping students and teachers safe, efforts will be made to preserve these critical components of school.”
We hope to begin the new school year face to face. Only under unseen or extraordinary reasons that we will not try to be a regular school again.
However, if government/health authorities mandate us to begin the school year online, we will implement practices so our teachers and students can still establish that important initial relationship that is important to create in the first few days of a new school year.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
As we continue to receive information from the ministry, we will update our community.
Rose and Jeff