As you have likely heard by now, Premier Doug Ford has announced that all publicly funded schools in Ontario will remain closed beyond April 5 to further help limit the spread of COVID-19. As such, all Peel District School Board schools, worksites and programs will remain closed/cancelled.
At this time, we are waiting for Ministry direction on when schools and worksites will be expected to reopen. I understand this uncertainty can be frustrating and worrisome, which is why I wanted to reach out to you today to provide you with an update about the information we do know. I hope this message helps provide some calm in these turbulent times.
Next steps: Learning at home
We have heard from students, families and staff who are understandably concerned about missed class time and its impact on final grades and learning. While we have been clear that students are not expected to complete any school or course work between March 14 and April 5, we do expect teacher-directed learning to begin again—from a distance—starting some time in April. We'll provide the official start date when it's finalized.
In the meantime, students and families can access the following resources for independent, self-directed learning:
We understand that student needs and family circumstances are different. We also acknowledge the extraordinary pressure families are under and do not wish to add to it by asking you to recreate the classroom experience at home. That being said, we have a responsibility to ensure that every student has access to learning at home and we are working diligently to ensure all learning needs are met. And here's how we're preparing.
Between March 23 and April 5, 2020, school boards across Ontario are expected to develop plans to re-establish the delivery of curriculum, and to explore ways to provide students with equitable access to learning. Like you, we have serious concerns about equity of access to technology and Wi-Fi, as well as worries about how all students, including those with English as a Second Language, Special Education needs, and other accommodations will be supported. We ask for your understanding as we work through the complex challenge of meeting the needs of every learner. Our goal is to ensure that every student has access to meaningful learning during the closure.
Cancellation of school banquets, field trips, formals and proms
With the current extension of school closures and ongoing physical distancing measures, at this time, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel all field trips, athletic banquets, semi-formals and proms for the remainder of the school year. A decision has not yet been made about graduations and commencements. Refund information will follow.
We know that this is very difficult news to hear. A lot of planning, energy and funds go into these events—by school staff, students and their families. We apologize and appreciate your understanding. Our priority must be on keeping everyone safe.
Stay connected: We're here for you
Our COVID-19 webpage should be your primary source of information for anything coronavirus-related. There you'll find helpful community and mental health resources to support you and your family's well-being as well as links to food banks, meal programs and financial supports should you need them.
On the community and mental health resources page, you'll also find resources on how to support student mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic and information on how to talk to children and adolescents about COVID-19.
Stay healthy, stay kind and #StayHome
These are truly challenging, unprecedented times, not just here in Ontario, but around the world. Despite this, I remain hopeful because I know that we are surrounded by helpers—those who continue to make a positive difference in the lives of children, youth and families in Peel. Whether in the classroom, or remotely, we remain committed to doing all we can to inspire success, confidence hope in each student.
Thank you for your ongoing support, understanding and partnership. I hope you will share my video message for students with them—you can find it here.
Please stay healthy and take care of yourselves and each other.
Director of Education