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Trustee Update

Zakir Patel Ward 19: Scarborough - Guildwood
Toronto District School Board
Tel: 416-395-8787
Cell: 647-709-7973

Ministry Direction on COVID-19

On March 11, the Chair of the Board issued a letter to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa.  On behalf of the TDSB, the Chair requested additional guidance and time to adjust health and safety measures in schools with regard to the province’s recent announcement about lifting most public health measures, including mask mandates, by March 21, 2022. Read the full letter.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, responded to the TDSB’s request for more time to implement these changes, and reiterated their previous direction. Toronto Public Health responded by noting that all policies related to mask mandates in schools are the responsibility of the provincial government, but underscored their continued partnership with the TDSB as we continue to navigate health and safety measures together.

Revised Health Screening
Toronto Public Health has updated its screening for children/students/adults to align with the new direction from the Chief Medical Officer of Health with respect to isolation guidelines and masking requirements following a COVID-19 diagnosis or identification of being a close contact. Please do a daily self-assessment with this screening tool before coming to school and follow the isolation guidelines and other requirements, such as masking, as necessary. As of Monday, you do not need to provide verification of this self-assessment through either the Health Paper Pass or Health Screening App.

As of March 21, masks will be strongly encouraged in TDSB schools, though not required, except in the following circumstances: 

  • For days 6-10 after a self-isolation period of five days after a COVD-19 diagnosis. Learn more.
  • If you are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19. Learn more.
  • In public spaces, including schools and childcares, for the first 14 days following travel outside of Canada. Learn more.

TDSB schools will continue to be mask-friendly environments. Masks will still be available to both staff and students upon request. Classroom environments will be inclusive of all students. 

Cohorting and Physical Distancing
With the lifting of all cohorting and physical distancing requirements, students may now sit, work and play together. As schools move towards these more normal, pre-pandemic conditions, some activities such as extracurriculars and events, require a more thoughtful, phased-in approach in schools, as well as significant staff support. Please be patient as schools work to implement these changes in their local community.

This new direction also impacts our Severe Weather procedure. As classes can now combine, moving forward, when busses are canceled as a result of severe weather, schools will now remain open, in line with the Toronto Catholic District School Board with whom we share bussing services.

Ontario Autism Program, Entry to School at Cornell Junior PS

Ontario Autism Program, Entry to School is a provincial program for children with autism aged 3-6 years of age who are not yet in the public education system. The program is funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and is delivered by agencies that provide services to children with autism. The purpose of the program is to help children with autism prepare for entering school for the first time. Classrooms in schools are ideal places to accommodate the program to assist these children in acclimatizing to the school environment.

Cornell Jr PS was identified because the school is under-utilized and has unused classrooms that could be made available now. The classrooms are near entrances and washrooms. The agency, Superintendent and Principal are in support of starting this program at Cornell Jr PS.

Two agencies wil deliver the Entry to School Program at Cornell Jr PS: the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) will occupy one classroom and Strides Toronto will occupy two classrooms. The agencies will be occupying the classrooms starting on Monday, March 21 an staggered entry of children will begin on March 28. 

Backpack and School Supplies Drive

All students should have access to backpacks and school supplies to help them get the most out of their school experience – and you and/or your business can help our students and families in need with a donation to the TDSB’s Backpacks & School Supplies Drive!

This year’s Backpacks & School Supplies Drive will run from March 1, 2022 to the end of September 2022. Individual donors and companies can help our students by making a monetary donation and/or a donation of new backpacks and school supplies. Tax receipts are available for these donations.

Learn more.

Free Employment Services for Job Seekers in the GTA

For free, job seekers can access employment services and resources to get a job; secure the training you need for a new career; and so much more. The TDSB’s Community Services Unit operates seven convenient Next-Steps Employment Centres across the GTA. Visit to learn more.

Free Enhanced Language Training for Newcomers

Continue your professional career in Canada! Internationally Experienced/Educated Professionals new to Canada can sign up for the Community Services’ Enhanced Language Training (ELT) program. Trainees receive in-class instruction on their sectors and gain the opportunity to secure work placement in their related industry. Learn more at

International Languages: Elementary and African Heritage (ILE-AH)

This free online program welcomes JK to Grade 8 students to learn a language (except for English and French) for 2.5 hours a week.   Learn more and register online today.

Adult ESL Program

Adult learners will have an opportunity to improve their English in-person and online with the TDSB.  A broad range of English as a Second Language classes will be available, from beginner to advanced levels. Learn more by  visiting our program website.

Environment, Energy and Climate Action

The Toronto District School Board is dedicated to preparing young people for their future and recognizes its obligation to respond to the escalating climate crisis with education, action and leadership.

Learn more about the history of climate action and sustainability at the TDSB.

High Water Levels Brings Increased Risks

The Toronto and Region Conservation monitors hazardous ice conditions as thaw begins and are reminding everyone to be very careful around all bodies of water. The first hint of warming weather and the promise of spring thaw can bring extreme danger to the shores and surfaces of streams, rivers, ponds and lakes, according to Toronto and Region Conservation.

As warmer temperatures arrive, stream banks become increasingly slippery and unstable. Lake and river ice weakens, becoming thinner or with higher flows breaking with little or no warning. During this time, the potential for flooding and ice jamming is high.

Higher, faster-flowing water and extreme cold temperatures combine to create increased dangers on or near rivers, streams and ponds for people wishing to enjoy the seasonal changes. Parents and caregivers are being asked to keep children away from stream banks, ponds and lakes.

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Join the conversations happening on TDSB's social media communities. You'll find the most up-to-date information about us on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

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