I am writing to share with you an update on our back to school planning.
ORIENTATION DURING FIRST WEEK
As you will have heard, the Ministry of Education announced last week that school districts will be implementing a gradual restart plan during the week of September 8. This means that students will NOT be returning to classrooms on September 8 as previously announced. The first two days of school (September 8 and 9) will be reserved for the training of staff on all updated health and safety guidelines and to prepare for the return of our students. Students will begin to return to classrooms on September 10 and 11 in groups at set times for a full orientation on the implemented health and safety protocols and an introduction to their cohort. Regular daily attendance for all grade 1-12 students will begin on September 14. Parents of our incoming kindergarten students will be provided an updated detailed gradual start schedule directly by school principals.
ORGANIZING LEARNING GROUP COHORTS
In my last letter to you, I noted that our schools will be working hard over the next few weeks on the complex task of implementing provincial guidelines, organizing learning, and establishing bell schedules. The work on these organizational changes is now well under way, and schools will provide families with information about the structure of the learning groups – cohorts – once these groups are finalized. I anticipate that school principals will be communicating through school newsletters in the coming days.
I know you have many questions about what the Education Restart Plan will look like in our school district, and I appreciate your patience as we do this necessary planning work. We are committed to sharing with you as much as we can, as soon as we can. The work at all of our schools is very detailed and planning around a cohort or learning group is a significant and difficult change to organize. Having said that, the health and safety advantages of the cohort system are clear, and we are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that your child has an educational program that is diverse, interesting and as safe as possible in this challenging time. Our school administrators, partner group leaders, school district staff and managers have been working hard to move things forward with our planning.
The work is particularly intense for our secondary school principals, vice-principals and staff who build our student timetables. The organization of cohorts of up to 120 students and staff at our secondary schools will necessitate significant changes to our timetables and structures.
At elementary, there is complexity created by the need to organize classes, schedules, procedures and cohort groups. The impact will be on how our special education teachers, instructional support staff, librarians, school administrators, itinerant district staff and specialty teachers interact with the cohorts of up to 60 students and staff.
Since the July 29 announcement, I have received a number of letters asking about what provincial or school district programming may be available for families who require options outside of full-time in-classroom instruction that will be offered in the current Stage 2 plan as set out by the Provincial Health Officer and the Ministry of Education.
School principals will soon be ready to speak with families about the options for blended instruction (in-class and on-line combinations) that already exist in the school district that we may be able to expand if needed. Please see the information below outlining our district options.
It is essential that you communicate your child’s learning and/or health needs with their school principal if you believe that your child’s programming needs to be adjusted. Principals will indicate when they are ready for this next stage of preparation with families in their first school newsletter this week. The connection of students to our schools is very important and your school principals are committed to working with you to address student/family needs.
I would like to emphasize that, while our school district does offer blended learning options and accommodations, there really is no substitute for face-to-face instruction. The well-being of our students and staff is at the core of all our careful planning work, and we are taking every step necessary to ensure students and staff have a safe return to fulltime in-classroom learning.
I will provide you with a detailed update about the health and safety measures and Stage 2 plans for our school district as soon our restart plan has been reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Education, but no later than August 26. I know that our health and safety planning is of utmost importance to families. We were very successful in the spring on this front and we are determined to approach the fall restart with similarly detailed health and safety planning and supports.
School principals will then follow-up these district communications with school specific details. This communication will include advice on school supplies, routines, pick-up and drop-off and the procedures regarding assignment of students to their teachers and their cohort on September 10 and 11.
SCHOOL DISTRICT 42 PROGRAM OPTIONS
Hospital Homebound Support [Kindergarten to Grade 12]
The Hospital Homebound Support program provides support to students who are unable to attend school for medical reasons. The Hospital Homebound teacher works with elementary and secondary students who have not been allocated support teacher time through a special needs designation. The teacher helps students maintain connections with the people and programs at their schools, and students participating in this program continue to be registered at their school and in their classes. Contact your child’s school for additional information about the Hospital Homebound Support Program. Eligibility requirements, a physician request form, and other resources related to this program are located on the Learning Services website at https://learningservices.sd42.ca/departments/hospital-homebound-services/. Please note this program may be expanded and/or modified for this school year.
Odyssey [Kindergarten to Grade 9]
Odyssey is a K-9 program in which learning is designed and developed by teaching staff and delivered at home by a parent. Odyssey staff ensure that all students in the program follow the BC curriculum while providing a unique partnership between the school, parent and student. This program, which runs out of Fairview Elementary, uses a “blended” approach where students attend school in small groups for specific instruction and support for a few hours per week and the teacher guides the home learning instruction of core curriculum through in-person and on-line support. We may expand the seats available for students at the Odyssey Program if needed and hope to offer a French Immersion option in this program as well.
The Odyssey program requires a high level of parental availability and commitment as most of the learning takes place at home. Students transferring to the Odyssey program will not remain registered at their current school. If you are considering this option, please speak to your child’s school principal first, as there may be other options available at the school level.
If you believe the Odyssey program would be a good fit for your child, please fill in the appropriate transfer form. The transfer form is available under the Transfer request process (K-12) tab on the district website. You will be contacted to arrange an in-take meeting. Acceptance into the Odyssey program will be determined once our intake meetings have concluded.
You can find more information about the Odyssey program on the district website at https://www.sd42.ca/program/odyssey/
Connected Learning Community [Grade 10 to Grade 12]
Connected Learning Community (CLC) is an online Distributed Learning school offered through the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows school district. Students who are currently registered in high school and choose to take a course with an online school such as CLC will be “cross-enrolled.” Course marks/information will be included in the student’s high school report card and transcript. You can find additional information about CLC at https://clc.sd42.ca/.
SD42 students are encouraged to have comprehensive educational conversations with their home school principal or counsellor to ensure that they are aware of all available options at their home school before making decisions about their 2020/21 educational plan. Our secondary schools are creating a number of unique and diverse blended learning models to support student learning and honour the cohort guidelines created by the Ministry of Education and the Provincial Health Officer.
Registration for CLC will open online at https://clc.sd42.ca/ on August 21, 2020.
Under the School Act (section 12), a parent may also choose to provide their child with an education outside of a public or an independent school. This alternative method of teaching is not supervised by a BC-certified teacher, is not required to meet provincial standards, and is not inspected by the Ministry of Education. Parents who choose this option must register the child on or before September 30 in each year, and provide and supervise their child’s entire educational program, including curriculum and learning materials. You can learn more about homeschooling on the Ministry of Education website at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/support/classroom-alternatives/homeschooling. Parents selecting this option will complete a transfer form from the home school to homeschooling.
The transfer form is available under the Transfer request process (K-12) tab on the district website.