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Letter to Parents from the Director: Continuity of Learning (March 23, 2020)

INFORMATION FOR UGDSB PARENTS REGARDING COVID-19: Continuity of Learning

March 23, 2020

To all UGDSB parents and guardians,

Next to the health and safety of our staff and students, the continuation of student learning is our top priority as we return from March Break and face the challenges posed in this unprecedented situation where schools are closed. I would like to share with you some of the work the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) is doing, and will be doing for students and staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, the Upper Grand District School Board shared information with families on learning resources to support UGDSB students. It is important to note that these learning resources are not mandatory or graded and are meant for families to use as optional resources to support independent learning while students are at home.

Also last week, the Ministry of Education launched phase one of support for student learning through the Ministry’s Learning at Home website. This portal provides supplementary learning materials in math and literacy for elementary and secondary students. The website will help keep students learning and engaged during the COVID-19 school closure period. The ministry has said that these resources do not replace what students have been learning at school, but are intended to help mitigate learning loss during the COVID-19 shutdown period. In announcing this new initiative, Education Minister Stephen Lecce also stated that if school closures go beyond April 5, the Ministry of Education will launch a second phase of Learn at Home.

The ministry has asked school boards to use the next two weeks to develop plans to re-establish the delivery of curriculum to the greatest extent possible, as the Premier has now indicated that the closure will be extended beyond April 5. We are actively working on a plan for the UGDSB and once finalized, we will share it with staff, students and families. In the meantime, we encourage families to check the board website and Ministry Learn at Home website for learning resources. 

In creating our plan, we are collaborating with school administrators and educators to explore a range of ways to provide distance learning to our students and ensure the successful completion of the school year for all students. We will also be consulting with our union and federation partners as we develop our plan. These relationships are important in supporting students’ well-being and learning. 

We understand that parents and students are very concerned about this interruption to student learning. We also understand the importance of teachers, administrators and all education staff to provide the learning opportunities and programs our students need. We ask for your patience as we collaborate with all stakeholders to finalize how this support to students will be offered in the next while. We are committed to working through all aspects of this situation as quickly and effectively as possible under these very difficult circumstances. Please note that we cannot replicate our traditional school experience, however we will do whatever we can to provide supports and resources to our students and staff, and carefully consider issues of equity and accessibility. 

Finally, we also know that parents of students in their last year of high school are concerned about graduation. We heard from the Minister of Education that no student will be denied graduation as a result of school closures due to COVID-19. Parents are also concerned about the impact of the disruption to learning on students’ post-secondary plans, and the submission of marks and applications. We understand the Ministry of Education is working with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure there is a post-secondary transition contingency plan in place and more details from the province will be provided soon.

We are all faced with uncertainty during this time of social distancing and self isolation. It is important to monitor and take care of our mental health. We have prepared some resources to help with managing difficult conversations and supporting overall mental health during these difficult times: https://www.ugdsb.ca/community/coronavirus/mental-health-resources-during-covid-19/ 

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help, please call:

We will continue to keep our families informed as we develop a plan to support students with their learning. Take care of yourself and your family. Our thoughts are with all of our UGDSB families during these challenging times. 

Sincerely,

Martha Rogers
Director of Education

For additional information, learning resources and mental health resources, please visit: https://www.ugdsb.ca/community/coronavirus/

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