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September 4, 2020: Superintendent letter to secondary school families

September 4, 2020 2:30 PM

Dear families,

As we head into orientation week, I wanted to reach out to provide an update on our return to school planning.

As you know, our district posted an online survey on Friday, August 28, to determine how many students would be returning for in-classroom instruction in September. This survey closed on Tuesday, September 1, and the results have been shared with individual school principals.

Principals have been following up with families who expressed concerns about the return to school or who indicated that their specific family circumstances would make a return to in-classroom instruction difficult. If you didn’t take the survey and your child will not be returning for in-classroom instruction in September, please contact your child’s school principal. If you did take the survey but have concerns that you did not note in your survey response, I also encourage you to reach out to your child’s school principal. These individual conversations will be critically important in helping us identify and address individual family needs.

In addition to the existing district program options I identified in my August 19 letter to families (Odyssey [K-9], Connected Learning Community [Grades 10-12], and Hospital and Homebound Support [K-12]), our school district is also offering a graduated return to school option for the month of September and beyond if required. This option may appeal to families who want a slower transition to full-time in-classroom learning for their child while staying connected to their home school. However, the compressed timelines of a quarter system place far greater demands on secondary students, and full-time in-person attendance is key to success in this model.

The programming options in grade 10, 11 and 12 that we have built into the new quarter system timetables at each secondary school will give students flexibility at their home school. The school-based programming can also be augmented by our existing district online program, Connected Learning Community (https://clc.sd42.ca/).

For students in grades 8 and 9, a graduated return may be a good option for families requiring some accommodation for their children. In this model, grade 8 and 9 students seeking gradual re-entry might enrol in one course only for the first quarter and defer their second course with the guidance and permission of the school principal. Such students would consequently have more limited, part-time in-classroom attendance for the first quarter and a cohort of no larger than 30 without significantly impacting their studies. Such a plan would need to be re-evaluated with the school principal at the end of the first quarter. For students who are immunocompromised and/or for families with medical concerns, a district-supported online programming option for the first quarter is a solution that we are currently exploring as we determine the level of need.

If you are looking for any of these possible accommodations for your secondary school-aged child, please discuss your requirements with your child’s school principal and work with the school to explore options that ensure student success. Wherever possible, we want to maintain the connection of our students and families to their home high school. Student success is much greater when students stay connected to their teachers, their classmates and their school.

We have also received some questions about what the return to school process would look like for students whose families have registered in other programs outside of the school district or at other programs/schools in the school district. In such cases, students will have an opportunity to transition back into the home school at the beginning of each reporting period, and we will make best efforts to return students to their home school or program of choice. Requests for a return to in-classroom instruction during the 2020/21 school year will be accommodated following district Procedure 9200.1 Student Placement. Parents/guardians of students who want to return to their home school for September 2021 will be given first priority to do so. In such cases, parents will need to re-register their children in their home schools by December 11, 2020.

We have been working hard to plan for a safe return to in-classroom instruction and will continue to provide you with all important updates so that you remain well-informed. I know that principals shared their school-specific planning with families last week. If you have any questions about these school-specific plans, please reach out to your child’s principal for clarification. Specific school-based information regarding the organization and focus of the first days of school will be provided by school principals next week. If you have more general questions about the return to in-classroom instruction, visit the frequently asked questions section of the district website at https://www.sd42.ca/faq/. If you don’t find the answer to your question there, you can submit it through the Submit Question tab on the bottom of the page. Questions are reviewed by staff and FAQs are updated within 24 to 48 hours. If your question is not answered yet, it is because the details are still being worked out. We will continue to update the FAQs regularly as information becomes available.

We look forward to welcoming you back to our schools.  I know that I speak for our secondary school principals and vice-principals as well when I say that reconnecting with so many families these past few weeks has been a pleasure.  Enjoy the final weekend of summer!

 

Sincerely,

Sylvia Russell
Superintendent

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