Message from the Principal - John Bratina
I hope you and your loved ones are well and managing to find some rest and solace despite the unprecedented situation we are currently experiencing. My thoughts are with you all as we try to navigate this new uncertainty.
Before the Break, the Board and Ministry of Education began looking at ways to support students and student learning through this very challenging time. This week and next we are gathering information, assessing needs, and formulating plans about the continuation of learning and will be communicating with students and their families as soon as these plans are finalized. As the Board also has the ability to send mass communications I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of accessing and reviewing the TDSB’s electronic newsletter School Connects as well as all direct communication via the “Parent letters from the Director of Education” available on website TDSB.on.ca. This will help to ensure you are receiving the latest information and updates.
By now, I am sure you have all heard that school closures will continue past the two weeks initially announced by the Government. I know that this will be challenging news for many students and their families. No return date has yet been proposed.
To date, questions we have received from families have been focused on access for those who do not have internet/computers at home and the impact of this closure on students’ graduation/applications to College or University. As mentioned above, to the first question, I am told that both the Ministry of Education and the Board are working to find solutions to support students who need devices/internet; and, to the second question, the Minister has said that the two-week closure will not have an impact on graduation or applications to Colleges/Universities.
While the Board continues to work on how to best support student learning (for all students), I know that many of you will have a number of questions. We would like to try to answer as many of those questions as we can. I invite parents to share any questions or concerns with me directly prior to April 5th, 2020, which we undertake to acknowledged and respond to in a reasonable time frame given the circumstances. For questions that we are not absolutely certain of the answer to, we will forward them to the appropriate authority and will cite that authority in our response.
In the interim, as we plan to set up our system for success, I wanted to provide you with a couple of useful links. The first is the Ministry of Education’s Learning at Home website. This portal was designed to provide supplementary learning materials in math and literacy for elementary and secondary students. The website will help keep students learning and engaged during the COVID-19 school closure period. The Ministry has said that these resources do not replace what students have been learning at school, but are intended to help mitigate the loss of learning during the COVID-19 shutdown period. In addition, the TDSB provides additional online resources that will support the Ministry’s “Learning at Home” initiative.
Going forward student well-being and mental health will also be an important focus. Both school-based staff and Professional Support Services share responsibilities for supporting student well-being. There are a variety of Mental Health and Well-Being Resources for students and families available on the TDSB web. I know that this can be a very stressful and anxiety-causing time for everyone, but especially vulnerable are our students. Students, please remember that you can reach out to Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or at kidshelpphone.ca; this is a free and confidential service and counselors are available 24/7. I know that the school and Board are also looking at ways to support student mental health, as well as academics, throughout the coming weeks. If you have health-related questions, a great source of information on COVID-19 (or any other issue) is Toronto Public Health www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/.
I will do my best to keep you informed as we continue to work through this uncertain time. Again, do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. As always, I am available and can be reached at my email address if I can be of service or help.
Lastly, I would encourage everyone to stay as positive as possible and to know that with time and our collective adherence to social distancing as well as all other restrictions recommended by our health professionals this challenging time will pass.
Thank you and keep safe.
Principal, East York Collegiate Institute