Dear Parents/Guardians and Students,
It is a testament to the hard work of our students and staff in following all of the safety measures in place that we have only had two schools with cases of COVID up to this point in the school year. Efforts in adhering to daily self-screening before school, along with practising hand hygiene, masking, physical distancing and other safety measures while at school have been truly remarkable!
To all of our remote learners, thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue on the journey of providing robust virtual learning experiences. We hope to share some exciting news with you shortly about the name of our elementary virtual school.
We are now about a quarter of the way into our school year. Our high school students have just finished their first quadmester and our elementary students will soon receive their first progress report. Our goal continues to be to keep all our schools open! We are following all advice from the RCDHU and the Ministry of Education. We are watching the provincial data trends and we know that the possibility of a shut-down exists if case numbers continue to rise. The Ministry of Education has asked everyone to be prepared to switch to full remote learning if we have to close schools. In some cases, as we have experienced at Bishop Smith and Our Lady of Grace, classes may need to be closed and students and staff remain home to self-isolate. Some things to keep in mind if classes or schools are closed:
- We will keep learning happening on-line. Our teachers and support staff have been working hard to do what we can to keep learning going. If you, as a family, have barriers to this (e.g. poor or no internet, lack of a device), please alert your teacher and school.
- Unlike the March-June period this year, student progress and growth can only be assessed on work submitted and demonstrated. In other words, there is an expectation that students remain engaged and active in their learning in order to be graded. Marks and grades can go both up and down. Our teachers have been working hard to provide instruction that goes beyond the emergency learning strategies employed last spring. In order for teachers to assess, students need to demonstrate understanding of the curriculum through the tasks assigned to them.
- Whether at school or at home, the mental health and well-being of students remains a priority. If your child is struggling, lonely, worried, or concerned, talk to someone. In addition to the sense of community we try build in the classroom and school, our Board has developed a number of tools and resources for students to tap into in order to stay well.
With winter weather upon us, the possibility of bus cancellations becomes more real. As in past years, rarely do we close a school when busses are cancelled. The majority of our staff are able to come to work on those days to ensure we have appropriate safety coverage. While it’s a bit more complicated this year because it’s tougher to combine groups of students to protect cohorting, we will do our best to keep schools open for students who are able to come in. If we need to close, our goal is to advise you by no later than 6:30 in the morning.
A reminder about where students sit on busses
Students are reminded to sit in their assigned seats on busses. This is crucial when we need to work with the health unit to identify high-risk contacts. If we are unsure where students have been sitting, the likelihood is greater that everyone on the bus could be declared a high-risk contact. Keep up the great work on this!
A final note
We are surely living through the most remarkable time in our lives and our resilience, patience and mental health continue to be tested as never before. And yet, it takes no longer than 10 seconds observing a school-yard at recess or lunch to see the exuberance, joy and energy of students at play. Equally, our on-line students are growing with us in Google Meets and other platforms as we continue to get better and stronger at this way of learning. We all know the strain we are under as the virus tries to bend us into despair, in addition to its physical threat. With God’s grace and unconditional love, let’s continue to do whatever we can to support one another through this, keep our schools open and learning in all its forms happening.