June 3, 2020 Message from the Director

Message From the Director Of Education
Posted on 06/04/2020
blue image and title of director's message

Dear Families,

I am writing to provide an update on school operations due to the provincial order to keep schools closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Since the announcement by the Premier and Minister of Education on May 19, 2020, Limestone District School Board staff have been working on various plans to support students, staff and families through these changes.

As we shared with you earlier, it is important to note that school is not cancelled – in-school teaching and learning is suspended. Our educators, assisted by support staff, continue to offer all students learning opportunities that suit their individual circumstances. This work will continue until the end of the school year on June 26, 2020. Professional Activity (PA) Days and secondary exams days have been replaced by instructional days.

Here are some other important updates:

Report cards: All students will receive final report cards in June. All marks will be based on students’ learning prior to the school closures on March 13. Elementary teachers will use formative assessment approaches to gather evidence of how Kindergarten to Grade 8 students are progressing in their learning. In secondary, final marks will be based on student work completed prior to March 13, as well as after April 6 , only when this data improves the student’s final grade. No student’s mark will be negatively affected by performance during the school closure period.

Graduation: Grade 12 students scheduled to graduate will do so as planned. Due to current public health directives, traditional in-person graduation ceremonies are cancelled. Instead, secondary schools will produce a virtual graduation celebration video for graduates and their families to watch together on June 25, 2020. Schools are also preparing various Class of 2020 keepsakes. Grade 12 students will hear directly from your schools about specific plans. Grade 8 graduation ceremonies will also be celebrated in a virtual format and schools will reach out to families directly.

Retrieval of personal belongings: Schools are beginning to communicate with families regarding the retrieval of personal belongings. Each school will be in touch with families and students regarding its unique plan based on board and public health protocols. Please be patient as this may take several days/weeks. If you are ill, self-isolating, or are unable to retrieve personal items for any reason, please let your administrator know so they can work with you on an alternative plan.

Device/learning materials collection: At this time, devices that were distributed to students for remote learning will only be collected from students who are leaving Limestone (students who are graduating or transferring to another school board). Students who are staying in Limestone for the 2020-2021 school year will hold onto their devices until further notice. This is the same process for the return of school textbooks and library books. Again, if you are ill, self-isolating, or are unable to retrieve personal items for any reason, please let your administrator know so they can work with you on an alternative plan.

Summer learning: Limestone’s regular summer session registration is now open. We continue to plan additional summer learning opportunities which may include a blend of  face-to-face and virtual options. Stay tuned for more details.

Emergency Remote Learning Survey: Thank you to everyone who participated in our remote learning survey in May. We were pleased to see that most respondents are feeling okay about their experience. This certainly does not mean there is not room for improvement. Staff are working to unpack the data so we can improve student engagement, ensure teachers are connecting with all students, and making the most out of our emergency learning for the remainder of the school year.

Enhanced COVID-19 Testing: The Province has enhanced its testing for COVID-19 and people no longer need a referral to go to assessment centres across Ontario for testing. No Ontarian will be declined a test. Families are encouraged to visit an assessment centre if you: have at least one of the symptoms of COVID-19; do not have symptoms but are concerned you might have been exposed; do not have symptoms but think you are at risk through your employment (for example, if you are an essential or health care worker); would like to be tested. Visit KFL&A Public Health for more information.

September 2020: We still do not know what a possible return to in-person school will look in the fall. The Ministry of Education has indicated it will release a plan for September before the end of June. We have asked for this plan to be shared with school boards as soon as possible so that we may begin implementing the return-to-school plan now. In the meantime, Limestone is developing a variety of contingency plans that take into account various return-to-school scenarios. It’s important for families and students to know that if we do return to classes in September, the school experience will likely look very different. We will take every precaution to ensure we are ready to welcome back students and staff when it is safe to do so. We will need to work together to create the best learning opportunities we can for our students in a supportive environment that ensures the safety and well-being of everyone – students, staff and anyone who works with us.

While there remain many unknowns, I want you to know that our staff, trustees, and our community partners who work with us to support students and families, remain committed to doing our very best for our school communities. We have seen wonderful examples of strength, resilience, and teamwork these past few months and I am proud of the way Limestone has risen to this unprecedented challenge. I encourage you to continue to take care of yourselves and each other. You can access a list of resources to help support your well-being on our website which includes a comprehensive list of community supports focused on mental and physical health, food, and shelter information.

Please take good care.

Debra Rantz
Director of Education