From the Desk of the Director

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The last few weeks have been surreal, for all of us. I pray everyone is well, and you and your families are taking the necessary precautions to remain safe during the COVID-19 closure.

It was a priority of the Ministry of Education to close schools, ensuring the safety of our students, families and Board Staff. School closures are vital in the fight to flatten the curve. Yesterday, the Minister of Education announced that the school closure will extend until May 4, 2020 and we are thankful for this decision of safety.

Our shared goal is to ensure the successful completion of the school year for all students, and to support students to advance to the next school year, earn credits and to graduate.

The Minister launched Phase II of the Learn at Home Initiative, indicating the following:

  • Reconnecting students with teachers and other school staff, including mental health workers;
  • Re-establishing teacher-led learning by grade groupings as follows:
  • Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week
    (focus on literacy and math)
    • Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week
      (focus on literacy, math, science and social studies)
    • Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week
      (focus on math, literacy, science and social studies)
    • Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students
      (focus on achieving credits/completion/graduation)
  • Leveraging digital resources and identifying alternative forms of teacher-student connectivity, such as phone and mail;
  • Requiring final report cards for all students;
  • Prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate;
  • Distributing laptops and/or devices from schools as needed, while observing public health direction;

The Minister touched upon Special Education and ways to utilize non traditional methods of delivery and assistance with additional benefits to these families and their children. We are awaiting further information and directives on this.

As a parent, I understand there are many unknowns, which can be daunting. Discussing the current situation with your children pose challenges, especially for younger minds. With this being said, we have created an online tool-kit with mental health resources to help bridge this gap. I hope these tools assist in the communication with your children and I encourage you to take a look at these resources located on our website in the navigation menu entitled: COVID-19.

Many of you have been trying to keep your children occupied, focused and engaged in a routine over the past few weeks. I’ve had many comments from parents about what they’re doing to keep their children learning while being at home. Many of you have been utilizing the Ministry’s Learn at Home resources, or various other assistive materials; some of you have even been creating your own lesson plans. For this, I applaud you. Important lessons can be learned at home, that do not necessarily involve a textbook or technology.

Over the past two and a half weeks, our Team has been working diligently, preparing for phase two of the Ministry Learn at Home directive. This continuation of learning will incorporate our educators, many who have already reached out to their students; checking in on their well being and even providing some instruction on their own initiative. I cannot thank our educators enough, these gestures further illustrate how much they care about their students and their love for their vocation, especially during this time of need.

What can you expect in the coming days regarding your child's education:

  • Principals will be reaching out to you, regarding your child's devices and connectivity within your home.
  • Educators will be checking-in.
  • Educators will provide information on next steps for the continuation of learning. They may have some questions regarding the best way to communicate with your family.
  • Instructional Videos will be located on our website to show students and parents how to connect to many of the resources we have available.
  • Please know, we do not expect students to complete the same amount of work that they would complete during a typical day. We encourage students to continue to work on their academics, however we understand that some families are going through some difficult times. The Ministry has set out the hours of school expectations, as seen above, which are still necessary - as Educators will be grading and providing report cards. *For clarification the hours indicated by the Ministry, along with work provided by the Educators, are mandatory and must be completed by students.

I would like to say thank you, for your flexibility and understanding regarding your child’s education. Know we value your time and your desire to continue your child’s education from home. We’re all in this together, and I hope soon, we will be learning again inside our classrooms at Thunder Bay Catholic.

Please take care, be safe and God Bless.

P. Tassone
Director of Education

© Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board 2020