Letter from the Director on reopening schools (August 10, 2020)
August 10, 2020
Dear Upper Grand DSB families,
I am writing to provide you with information regarding the Upper Grand District School Board’s reopening schools plan.
I know that this has been a confusing and stressful time for families. Understandably, many of you have questions about what school will look like in the fall. While there are some questions we do not have answers to yet, I hope this letter will help reassure you that our entire UGDSB team is working hard to get everyone back to school in the safest way possible as well as provide you with some of the answers you are looking for.
The board has been consulting with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) on a regular basis. WDGPH has reviewed our board’s reopening plans and staff guidelines, and we will continue to consult with Public Health in the coming days, weeks and months. In addition, we will also continue to meet with our union, federation and association partners on a weekly basis to discuss and address needs specific to our valued staff.
On July 30, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced its decision for the reopening of schools in September. The UGDSB was directed to reopen all our elementary and secondary schools under a conventional model in September. This means that all UGDSB schools will open to students for in person learning, five days a week. Having said that, one important thing that we have learned during the pandemic is that things can change, sometimes very quickly. Due to this, the details outlined in our plans and protocols could change based on direction from the Ministry of Education and/or public health officials. We will always ensure that you know about these changes as soon as possible.
Last week, we asked all families to pre-register their children for school and let us know if they intend on attending school in person or through remote learning. Families are asked to pre-register by August 14. You can do so at the following link: www.ugdsb.ca/survey. Schools will be following up individually with families that have not completed the survey by the deadline.
We know that there hasn’t been much time for you to take in all of this information and make a decision. In order to have enough time to plan for in person and remote class organization, school routines, and other school-specific preparations, we need to know now how many students will be attending in person or remotely. By advising us of your intentions now you are helping make the transition back to school smoother and we greatly appreciate your assistance.
I want to assure you that we are doing our best to ensure that all students receive robust instruction, whether they choose in person or remote learning. Remote learning this year will look different than it did in the spring. Students will participate in remote learning five days a week, with teachers using a blend of synchronous (live, real-time) and asynchronous teaching and learning. For more information about remote learning, please see our Parent Guide and FAQ posted on the board website at www.ugdsb.ca/fall2020.
One question we have received from many families is whether or not students will be allowed to switch between remote and in-person learning. Making this switch will be possible, but parents should know that the period of time that students must remain in their chosen delivery format will be an extended period of time, for example at the end of a reporting period in elementary or “quadmester” (e.g. 10 weeks) in secondary. The reason for this is that we need to be able to plan, manage and potentially reorganize our class sizes and structure if the numbers of students attending in person change significantly.
For those who attend school in person, the daily routines and practices will be different than what you are used to. Following the directions of the Ministry of Education and public health officials, we are making changes to our schools and sites that take into account protocols for physical distancing, hygiene, health and safety, COVID-19 symptoms and outbreaks, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting.
Regardless of the delivery format students choose for September, we will continue to support their mental health and wellness needs, in both a targeted way during students’ initial return and throughout the year. Students with special education needs will continue to be supported. School principals will work alongside classroom teaching staff, other school and board support staff as well as families to determine the support required to develop safe learning environments for students.
The areas I’ve touched on here are just some of the many considerations we are taking into account in our plans and protocols. We understand that all of this may be overwhelming. As parents and guardians you want to make the best possible decision for your children and feel comfortable sending them to school. Please know that we are here to support you.
Please continue to check our Reopening Schools website at www.ugdsb.ca/fall2020 for important information about the restart of school, a guide for parents/guardians, and answers to some frequently asked questions. If you have further questions, you can contact us by email at [email protected]. You may also contact your local trustee or Chair of the Board, using the contact information available on the board website: https://www.ugdsb.ca/board/board-trustees/
No doubt, this year will be challenging but, as an educational community we have already come through so much in the last several months, showing strength, resilience, and flexibility, and I very much believe that we will get through this, together.
Thank you to all of you for everything you have done and will continue to do to help ensure the success of our students.
Director of Education