Board Meeting Highlights for October 2021
For Immediate Release
October 27, 2021
GUELPH, Ontario – The October meeting of the Upper Grand District School Board was held on October 26, 2021. The following provides highlights from the meeting.
West Guelph Consolidated JK-8 FI Feasibility Study – Final Report
Staff presented the Final Report of the West Guelph Consolidated JK-8 French Immersion Feasibility Study. In June, trustees passed a motion, “That staff be directed to undertake a study of the consolidation of a JK-8 FI program in West Guelph schools.” The study was an outcome of public feedback received during the West Guelph JK-8 French Immersion (FI) Boundary Review about the lack of a consolidated JK-8 FI program in West Guelph.
The Final Report provides information on Regular Track (RT) and French Immersion (FI) enrolments and school capacities in West Guelph to determine the feasibility of a consolidated FI program in West Guelph.
The feasibility study was a staff driven process, and was not a public consultation process. Future changes to the FI program, location or boundaries in West Guelph are only possible through a public review process including the Board’s School Boundary Review Policy 320 or Pupil Accommodation Review Policy 305.
The Final Report details enrolment projections and school capacities. Through that examination, the report concludes that based on current enrolment projections, there are no schools in West Guelph with enough surplus capacity to accommodate a consolidated JK-8 FI program in the long term. Further, at this time there is no ability for the Board to consider reassigning a RT or FI program to accommodate a consolidated JK-8 FI program, as this requires the Board to undertake a Pupil Accommodation Review process. The Ministry of Education has imposed a moratorium on Pupil Accommodation Review processes and at present, there is no timeline for when the moratorium will be lifted.
Trustees approved a motion, “That the Board does not proceed at this time with a public review process to create a consolidated JK-8 FI program in West Guelph due to a lack of sufficient capacity in existing schools.”
Mental Health Update
Staff provided an update on work the UGDSB is doing to promote mentally healthy classrooms, including projects that took place in the summer, an overview of the Mentally Healthy Return to School initiative, and looking ahead for the 2021-22 school year.
Summer programs included Stress Busters, an eight-week program for students ages 8-12, and Living Life to the Full, a month-long program for students in ages 12-17. Parent/caregiver support included Caregiver Support Circles, a summer program for caregivers to talk about their experiences and find support for caring for a child during COVID-19, The Struggle to Juggle workshop, and SafeTALK training. Staff and educators received suicide prevention training, including a two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills training session and a half day SafeTALK Suicide Intervention Skills training session.
The board’s Mentally Healthy Return to School initiative focused around the board’s commitment that a mentally healthy return to school honours the identities and lived realities of students and makes meaningful connections to life at school. The board prioritizes mental health and well-being as a key condition for students to learn and flourish. Staff will lead with compassion and empathy and take action to address equity in mental health and well-being. The board recognizes that all students will benefit from extra support as they returned to school, and some students will need additional support. Key resources in this work include the First 10 Days and Beyond initiative, websites and resources for students, parents/caregivers and educators, and the Wellness Works year-long initiative.
Highlights of the action items for 2021-22 include:
- Collaboration with community agencies and in partnership with parents/caregivers and youth to design parent webinars
- Addiction prevention and early intervention program review
- Delivery of two more virtual Stress Busters programs
- New outcome survey for all mental health staff
- Board-wide wellness themes with monthly content as well as office hours for educators
- ASIST and VTRA trainings as per policy
- 2SLGBTQIA+ focused resources relating to mental health and well-being
- Third full day session with CYCs with UGDSB’s Indigenous Education Lead Colinda Clyne: Understanding Our History and Taking Action in Our Present
- Anti-Sex Trafficking Policy, programs and partnerships
Police Presentations in Schools
Trustees received a presentation on the collaborative work happening between the UGDSB, Guelph Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police, with regards to Police Presentations in Schools. Following the work and final report of the UGDSB Police Presence in Schools Task Force, in April 2021, trustees approved seven recommendations related to police presence in UGDSB schools including that:
- All police presentations be vetted using the Presentations in Schools Guidelines (updated in 2019) developed by the Student Support and Program Services department of the UGDSB.
- All students and parents be notified in advance of all police presentations at school.
- Staff collect feedback from students and staff on all police classroom/school presentations.
A committee of UGDSB staff members worked in the spring and summer to review the process for police presentations in schools with considerations for diversity and inclusion, positive messaging, curriculum connections and age appropriateness. The committee met with representatives from Guelph Police and the OPP to review recommendations.
The presentation to trustees discussed several items including parent/caregiver letters that will provide notice of upcoming presentations, student feedback forms that will collect student feedback and voice following presentations, changes that will be made to presentations and other updates. The committee will continue to work collaboratively with police and community organizations to continue this work. To view the presentation made to Trustees, visit the board website.
Trustees approved the following board policy:
The following draft policy will be released for public consultation:
Policy 504 is important to students, parents/caregivers, staff, school councils, and community members because everyone plays a role in creating and maintaining a learning and working environment where everyone can participate fully, thrive, and reach their full potential, free from trauma, bias, stereotyping, oppression and systemic racism. The deadline to provide input for this draft policy is November 25, 2021, at 4pm.
To view all UGDSB policies and procedures, and to provide feedback on draft policies, visit www.ugdsb.ca/policy.
Board Motions Regarding Staff PPE
Trustees approved two motions related to staff personal protective equipment (PPE). Trustees moved that the Board write a letter to the Ministry of Education regarding improving the level of PPE for staff. Trustees also tasked staff with preparing a report that examines the UGDSB staff masking protocol and to report back to the Board of Trustees.
The next regular monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday November 23, 2021. Meeting details will be posted online at https://www.ugdsb.ca/board/board-meetings/.