Dear Parents/Guardians and Families,
We would like to begin by simply saying thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you for your continued patience as we work through all of the planning and Ministry of Education approvals required for a safe return to school and work for staff and students. It has not been an easy or straightforward process. We know you are anxious to learn more about what to expect as we open TDSB schools and welcome students back. We sincerely appreciate your continued understanding and trust as we move forward. We are doing everything we can to plan effectively for a safe return to school and we are focussed on doing everything possible to keep staff, students and families safe and healthy.
As you may know, Trustees made a number of important decisions yesterday including the approval of more than $30 million in funding to hire an additional 366 teachers to lower elementary class sizes to help improve student and staff safety in schools. Staff have now finalized our secondary and elementary school learning models and we are moving forward with the important planning and preparations necessary to reopen schools.
Delayed Start: Tuesday, September 15
Given the time required to prepare for the return to school, the TDSB has to move the first day of school (for elementary, secondary and virtual school) to Tuesday, September 15. The entry of all grades will then be staggered over three days. This extra time will help us open schools in a safe and orderly manner. More information and specific details will be shared with parents/families directly from your child’s school prior to the first day of school.
Mask/Face Covering Guidelines
To improve health and safety in schools, all students and staff will be required wear masks/face coverings in TDSB buildings and on school buses. This decision is in line with the overall City of Toronto requirement that anyone over the age of two wear a mask/face covering in indoor public spaces — with exemptions for medical reasons. While schools will have masks available for students if required, the expectation is that students will provide and wear their own masks/face coverings. Particularly for younger students, we will ensure there are outdoor breaks, so students are not wearing masks for multiple hours at a time. More details on mask/face coverings will be coming shortly.
Elementary (Kindergarten to Grade 8)
Students (including those in Special Education and French Immersion & Extended French programs) will attend school 5 days per week, with one cohort/group for the full day, including recess and lunch. Enhanced health and safety protocols will be in place, including smaller class sizes to help maximize physical distancing. Elementary schools located in Toronto communities where Toronto Public Health data shows higher risk of contracting COVID-19 will have lower class sizes than all other elementary schools. Visit the website for more information, including important details on elementary class sizes.
Secondary (Grades 9 to 12)
Students (including those in Special Education and French Immersion & Extended French programs) will have in-class learning on alternate days and synchronous (live, online learning) as well as asynchronous (independent work) learning daily with enhanced health measures in place including smaller class sizes to help maximize physical distancing. For more information, please visit the website.
Virtual School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)
Registration for In-School or Virtual Learning
As you know, we began a pre-registration process earlier this month to learn which students planned to attend school in September and which students planned to take part in fully remote (home) learning. Since that time, there have been significant changes to the learning models and more information is available to help inform parents in making this decision. Therefore, on Wednesday of next week, the TDSB will ask parents/guardians via email to make a final decision and register their children to attend school or choose remote learning through the Virtual School. The email will contain a unique link to an online registration form for each student. Parents/guardians with more than one child will receive one email per child and will be required to complete a separate registration for each child. The online registration will be available in twenty different languages.
It is very important for all parents/guardians to complete this online registration, even those who have already responded to the pre-registration phone call last week. Only parents/guardians who do not have an email address on file or do not complete the registration online will receive a registration phone call asking them to make their selection. For more information and to learn about the different registration options, we encourage all parents/guardians to visit the TDSB website.
Wednesday, August 26: Email sent to all parents/guardians and registration opens
Saturday, August 29: Registration closes
We will continue to keep families informed and updated in the days ahead. We are preparing schools to receive staff and students. As a first step, Program and Operational Guidelines are currently being finalized and will be shared with Principals/Vice Principals and school staff next week. In order for staff and students to return to school safely, there are many considerations and adjustments to be made to school facilities and school staff require time to learn about these requirements and begin to implement before students return to school. Learn more about our health and safety guidelines for schools on the website.
We ask for your continued patience as this important work continues. Please remember that teachers and school staff have also been eagerly awaiting information and details that will allow them to plan for September. It will take some time to prepare and finalize school and class-specific plans. Please know that Principals will begin to share school-specific information directly with families as soon as possible. We know that you have many questions and concerns and staff will continue to do their best to provide the necessary information and keep you informed.
We are in this together and we all share a common goal of ensuring the health and safety of staff, students and families. We would like the return to school to be as smooth as possible for everyone and we need to continue working together to make this happen.
Interim Director of Education