A Message from the Minister of Education to Ontario’s Parents

September 3, 2021

Dear Ontario Parents,

We hope your summer is going very well. With the return to in-person learning this September, we are excited to see students heading back to class for a more normal learning experience – alongside their friends and teachers. We know that in-person learning is essential for the mental and physical health, academic achievement, and overall well-being of our young people.

Developed in consultation with medical experts, including the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and in review of the Provincial Science Table report, the measures we are taking are designed to keep students as safe as possible when at school.

In the 2021-22 school year, students across the province will:

  • Return to in-person learning for the full school day, though synchronous remote learning will remain an option;
  • Learn in classrooms supported by physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning;
  • Be able to participate in extracurricular activities, clubs, music, and the arts, as well as a full range of sports within the school and through inter-school sport activities with some modifications; and
  • Benefit from improved ventilation and other air quality infrastructure upgrades, including HEPA units in all kindergarten classrooms and in all learning spaces that are not connected to mechanical ventilation systems.

More details of the plan are available on the Ministry of Education’s website.

In addition, our government is working with public health units and publicly funded school boards to plan and host voluntary vaccination clinics in or nearby schools to continue to fight COVID-19covid 19. Clinics are expected to run before school starts and during the first few weeks of school. The program is part of the province’s last mile strategy to target those who have yet to receive a first or second dose and will provide accessible and convenient access to voluntary vaccines for eligible students and their families, as well as educators and school staff who are returning to school this fall.

We are dedicating more than $80 million in funding for student mental health supports. That’s more than four times the investments made in 2017-18 under the previous government.

Making Ontario’s return to school as safe as possible is supported by significant investments, including more than $1.6 billion in targeted COVID-19covid 19 supports, and $85.5 million in learning recovery and renewal to help students overcome any learning gaps the pandemic has created.

Improving air quality in schools is critically important for keeping school communities safe from COVID-19covid 19. That’s why I’m proud to add that our government has invested more than $600 million to improve school ventilation systems, following emerging scientific advice throughout the pandemic. That’s on top of the $1.4 billion in annual funding we provide to school boards to renew school facilities, including HVAC and windows.

Improvements to ventilation have been made across all schools and all boards in Ontario. In total, we will have provided over 70,000 standalone HEPA filtration units and other ventilation devices to keep classrooms safe.

To improve air quality at schools with mechanical ventilation, we are instructing boards to use the highest-grade filters – MERV-13 where possible – perform more frequent filter changes, operate air systems longer, and calibrate HVAC systems for maximum air flow and fresh air intake. For our youngest learners in junior and senior kindergarten, we are placing a standalone HEPA filter in their classrooms – regardless of whether or not the school has mechanical ventilation – as an added layer of protection. In the interest of transparency, we will provide school boards with a standardized public reporting tool on ventilation improvements.

Our government will continue to work closely with the education sector and medical experts to help ensure that the safety, well-being, and academic success of students remains front and centre. As part of that commitment, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health has released updated guidance to local public health units on the management of COVID-19covid 19 cases, contacts, and outbreaks. The guidance covers key topics associated with the management of COVID-19covid 19 in school settings, including guidance for managing symptomatic individuals, probable and confirmed cases, and suspected and confirmed outbreaks.

Our vaccine rollout continues. Vaccines are our best defence against COVID-19covid 19 and variants, and will help protect our students, our loved ones, and our communities from illness. And as Ontario’s Minister of Education, my top priority will always be the health and safety of the province’s students, educators, and parents. I thank all of you for the patience and resilience you have demonstrated through some very challenging times. Let’s continue our positive momentum and keep working together to ensure our kids are safe, as they enjoy a well-deserved, more normal school year.

I wish everyone a safe and happy return to school.

Sincerely,

The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education

Screening Confirmation

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The Ministry of Education has required that as an additional safety measure, parents/guardians must confirm that they have completed the provincial COVID-19 School and child care screening tool (covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening) for their child/children for the first two weeks of school.

This screening confirmation may continue throughout the year and as a Board, we feel this is an important protocol in keeping our students and staff safe.

Parents/guardians are required to screen their child using the provincial COVID-19 School and child care screening tool prior to sending their child to school every morning. If your child does not pass this mandatory screen, do not send your child to school.

Kindergarten to Grade 3 and Students with special needs:

Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 and students with special needs who are unable to verbally verify their screen, are required to utilize this form which will be sent home on Tuesday. Please complete this form and return to your school to verify this screening will occur.

Students in Grades 4 – 12:

Students in Grades 4 - 12 will verbally confirm that they have completed the screening during attendance with their classroom teacher.

Have a printer at home? Click here to download the Kindergarten - Grade 3/Student with special needs screening confirmation form, and send it back to the school with your child.

COVID-19 Portal - Information for students, families and staff

We're really excited to have everyone back in-person this year!

We have updated our COVID-19 Portal with everything you need to know regarding back to school safety.

Please take the time to read through the portal, hours of work were spent in making this an easy area to navigate and find answers to any possible questions.

Click here to learn more https://www.tbcschools.ca/about/covid-19

Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022)

Dear Families,

As many of you may have heard, a return to school guidance document was released today from the Ministry of Education.

This document outlines a school year which reflects a pre-pandemic “normal”with health and safety measures still in place. We are excited for the return of some extracurricular activities, field trips, music programming and assemblies.

We remain optimistic about the year ahead and will continue to keep you updated.

Please see the guidance document here.

Continue to have a great and restful summer!

Host Family Outreach

YES Canada, in partnership with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, is seeking families to host international high school students from countries around the world who are scheduled to attend our schools this fall. We are welcoming students from France, Denmark, Sweden and Japan for durations ranging from 2 months to the full school year.

Host families are responsible for providing three meals a day in a safe and nurturing environment. Host families are compensated with a monthly stipend of $500.

These international students have planned their study abroad program months in advance and are excited to learn more about the exchange country's culture and language.

Students are required to comply with all Government of Canada and Public Health requirements during Covid-19 including any testing and quarantine requirements both prior to departure and upon arrival in Canada. Additionally, protocols and expectations regarding COVID-19 safety are provided to both the student and host family throughout the process - including prior to arrival and throughout the program. The YES Canada team are available to answer questions and provide information.

These exchanges are important as they connect individuals and cultures and remind us of the common interests, passions and goals. It is also a great way to establish life-long friendships and connections.

If you are interested in hosting an international high school student or would like to learn more about YES Canada's homestay program, please contact scott@youthedservices.ca or call 416-623-6220 ext. 403.

To review program details, click here.

Summer Mental Health Services

While we hope everyone is enjoying their summer, we’d like to remind everyone of how to access support or mental health services during the summer months. Remember that there is no problem #TooBigOrTooSmall to ask for help. We have Social Workers available to support you with whatever is bothering you.

How are counselling services offered?

The Social Worker will negotiate this with you. Options include virtual counselling, phone-based services or in-person with screening and safeguards. Services are voluntary (your choice) and confidential.

Interested? Complete the referral form here

We accept referrals from parents of youth under 12, self-referrals from youth over the age of 12, and third-party referrals from community service providers.

Call the Mental Health Leader, Katie Matthews, at 625-1538.

What if help is needed NOW?

  • Call CMHA Thunder Bay’s Crisis Line (346-8282) for immediate mental health support or information any time of the day, evening or night (24/7).
  • If this is an emergency situation and you or someone else's safety is at risk, call 911 or get to the emergency department of the local hospital.
  • Parent and School Community Mental Health Information Sheet

Talk4Healing: Help Line for Aboriginal Women living in Northern Ontario

  • (1-855-554-4325)
  • Help line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Talk4Healing offers services in English, Ojibway,
  • Oji-Cree & Cree. You can call the help line from anywhere in northern Ontario.
  • For on-line information: http://www.talk4healing.com

Feeling anxious? Sad? Not yourself?


End of Year Events

June 10, 2021

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As a Board, we have taken every safety precaution throughout this pandemic ensuring the safety of our students and staff. Thank you to our students, parents, guardians and staff for all of your hard work throughout this school year, we know it hasn’t been easy. You have each stepped up and endured so much, and you have helped your children accomplish an incredible amount. We are looking forward to having all students back in our schools for the 2021-2022 school year.

Please find information regarding end of year activities and the wrap-up of the school year :

Important Note:

  • June 24th and 25th (the last two days of school) are deemed non-instructional year-end wrap-up days. There will be no virtual instruction for students on these two days. This will provide parents/students with time to drop-off devices/textbooks and pick-up personal belongings.
  • As per Ministry Guidelines, our schools are currently open for in-person learning for students with Special Needs. These programs are considered to be essential and we will continue to operate under Ministry directives until June 23, 2021.
  • Regarding year end celebrations: Not every school is the same and each school will be celebrating the end of the year differently. The Government has ambitiously volunteered Boards across Ontario to provide an end of year celebration for all grades, but this is not a realistic possibility for all schools. We are all doing our very best to get through the year virtually and attempting to celebrate in our own ways, in accordance with public health measures. Please be kind and considerate during this time - staff have been doing their best to make this year end a memorable one.

Please keep an eye out for communication from your home school regarding year end activities.

Our Board cannot thank you enough for all you have done for your children and your continued support this year. Let’s try and make these next few weeks positive and fun. Let’s set our sights for a well deserved, relaxing summer and a great 2021-2022 school year ahead!

God Bless,

Pino Tassone, Director of Education

Latest Announcement on Return to School

Dear Families,

Today, Premier Ford has directed Boards across the Province to extend virtual learning as a proactive and preventative measure. Therefore, elementary and secondary school students province-wide will participate in remote learning for the remainder of the school year.

As per Ministry Guidelines, our schools are currently open for in-person learning for students with Special Needs. These programs are considered to be essential and we will continue to operate under Ministry directives.

We were all hopeful for a return to school. We miss our students and we know they miss their friends. We're praying that September brings a fresh start; with undisrupted learning and a chance for normalcy.

Thank you again for everything you do, we know this year has not been easy.

In Honour of Children from the Kamloops Indian Residential School

Heartbroken.

Devastated.

Shocked.

Saddened.

Outraged.

Words cannot describe the hurt we feel in hearing about the remains of 215 children found in an unmarked grave, at the former Kamloops Residential School.

These were young, defenceless children - many were kindergarten aged. 215 children (almost an entire school) of Indigenous children who never made it home, secretly buried in an unmarked grave… unforgivable.

We’re a Catholic School Board composed of parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and siblings; and words cannot describe the pain in knowing what these children were subjected to within a Catholic Institution. As Thunder Bay Catholic, we apologize to all Residential School survivors and their families - especially to those who never made it home. Never should history like this repeat itself, nor be forgotten or discarded.

Beginning tomorrow, a sacred fire will be lit at Pope John Paul II school, the former St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School. Fire Keepers will be on site, along with tobacco for offerings. The public is welcome to come and pray, give offerings and reflect during this sacred time. Flags at all Board sites will be flown at half mast. This is a time to grieve and heal, together.

We are asking our entire community to wear orange tomorrow (May 31), as we reflect and pray for the families and for the spirits of the children who never returned home. We pray for their families who have never had closure and who never knew what happened to their loved ones.

For survivors and families who need support, please contact Indian Residential School Survivors Society at 1-800-721-0066 or NAN HOPE at 1-844-626-4673.

*We kindly ask to please remember to mask and maintain physical distancing guidelines at our sites.

COVID-19 Vaccine Booking for Youth aged 12 and up

Youth aged 12 and up are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) has arranged for special clinics for them to be immunized. Any family members who are at least 12 years old and who have not already received their first dose of vaccine are also eligible to book appointments at these clinics.

To book a vaccine appointment online at one of these dedicated clinics, please click here

Details on the vaccine clinic location are provided at the time of booking. More clinics will be added if needed. If you are not able to book online, call the TBDHU Call Centre at 625-5900. In addition to these dedicated clinics, vaccine appointments can also be made through the provincial booking system or through a pharmacy location offering vaccines to youth.

Other options may also be available. Please check our website at TBDHU.com/covidclinics for more vaccine opportunities.


Please read the letter from the TBDHU below:


https://www.tbcschools.ca/st-francis/about/announcements

© Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board 2021