Important Information Regarding Extended Christmas Break

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

As you know we have commenced our well-deserved Christmas Break and we hope that for each of you, it is starting as well as it can under our current circumstances.  No doubt you are likely also aware, the Premier of the Province has indicated that the return to school in January will be remote.  That is, on January 4th both our elementary and our secondary students will begin the new year learning virtually.  The decision is being made out of an abundance of caution.  We know our schools are safe.  The cases of COVID are not starting, nor are they spreading, in our schools, but we are a reflection of the community.  Closing the schools to in person learning for the early part of January will help us contain the cases that come into schools and ensure that when we return to our buildings, we are doing so in the safest manner possible.

Our elementary schools will return to face-to-face learning on Monday January 11th, 2021 and our secondary schools will return to face to face learning on Monday January 25th, 2021.

Just before we left for the break, we were given an indication that the government might choose a remote return in January.   Given the short timelines, we made a “best efforts” attempt to send home Chromebooks with all those students for whom we had a prior request through our comprehensive survey.  If there are outstanding orders that were missed, they will be deployed upon our return on January 4th.   Schools and Extended Day programs currently remain closed and unavailable to staff, students and parents.  All school staff and teachers are on a well-deserved break and will be available for questions and updates as of January 4th, 2021.

The move to remote learning will be different than last spring when the face-to-face hours with teachers was limited.  The school day will follow the bell times of your individual school and if not already received, you/your student will be given a clear indication of the daily schedule your child is to follow through your local school.  Again, we might expect that the first day or two back in January may not be perfectly smooth as we all adjust to the new reality.  St Isidore students will continue as per the usual schedule.

For our high needs special education students we would like to provide the following guidance.  In elementary, students with high needs will learn remotely as with the rest of your class and per the class daily schedule, but there will be “break-out” rooms where additional support is possible.  Your return to face-to-face learning will be January 11th 2020.  For secondary high need students, you will also leaning virtually for the first week back (again with breakout rooms) and by January 11th we will provide more detail with an option for transportation and face to face learning in your local school setting.

As of today, we are still planning to proceed with our Secondary Transition Survey regarding quadmesters 3 and 4.  The current decision to move to virtual is a short-term strategy and there will be a return to face to face learning on January 25th (as we near the end of quadmester 2).  Please keep in mind if you choose “face to face learning in the bricks and mortar schools” or if you choose “virtual” that is your choice through to the end of June.

Thank you for adhering to public health and safety measures that have ensured schools remain a safe place for our students and staff.  This will be more important than ever now – both for our schools and for our community at large.  During the upcoming Christmas Break we must adhere to the guidance to limit our contacts and social gatherings.  You can check the government’s holiday web page for more direct and up-to-date guidance on how individuals and families can plan for a safe holiday season, including suggestions for safer holiday activities for children and families.

Once again, we encourage you to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in our community – but also please be aware that these could change depending on the most current public health advice. We also suggest checking out the WCDSB website https://www.wcdsb.ca/living-learning-looking-forward/  and Region of Waterloo Public Health website https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/health-and-wellness/2019-novel-coronavirus.aspx as they contain helpful resources and supports.  If you have any questions about what your particular school is doing, please let your school principal know upon their return on January 4th, 2021.

I will also take this opportunity to point out that mental health resources are available to students and families through Kids Help Phone, which offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

This is likely not the Christmas any of us envisioned or desired.  These challenges are real and the hardships can be quite difficult for some.  But we can see the light in the distance.  We can also see the profound light of the manger.  Let us continue to be people of hope who celebrate the birth of a tiny babe who shared a powerful message of love and salvation.  Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #InThisTogether  #WeGotThis

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                                       

Director of Education 

December 22nd, 2020|

Special Message from the Director of Education

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

As I write this letter, we sit on the cusp of our Christmas break and perhaps more than ever, we can all appreciate the need for a pause.  It is a true testament to everyone in the entire WCDSB community that we made it to Christmas with all our schools still open and thriving, despite the reality of the pandemic.  The number of cases in our schools has grown, reflecting where we are as a region, but in all circumstances, the cases are quickly resolved, and all affected individuals return to school in a short period of time.  We have had very, very few cases of “outbreak” which is defined as 2 or more related cases in a school.  So, on behalf of all – thank you for your ongoing efforts which have made the school re-opening process possible, and for adhering to public health and safety measures that have ensured schools remain a safe place for our students and staff.

The holidays are going to look a little different this year. We understand that there may be challenges as the winter break approaches but we encourage all families to consider what we can all do to make the return to school in January 2021 as safe as possible. I would also like to remind you about the actions we are taking to reinforce the health and safety protocols aimed at protecting our students, educators and staff while limiting the spread of COVID-19 at schools.

Throughout this challenging time in our history, I have used the refrain #InThisTogether and it has been a way to emphasize that we are a team in all of this.  That we do have each other’s back.  What one of us does, affects all of us.  During the upcoming Christmas Break we must adhere to the guidance to limit our contacts and social gatherings.  You can check the government’s holiday web page for more direct and up-to-date guidance on how individuals and families can plan for a safe holiday season, including suggestions for safer holiday activities for children and families.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to speak to you about our upcoming Transition window in secondary.  As indicated, we have one further transition window in both elementary and secondary.  Our secondary survey will be open January 4th to January 6th.  At this time, you will have the opportunity to indicate if you wish to move your child back to face to face learning (adapted model) in their community school or if you wish to move to St Isidore (virtual school).

This choice will apply for the remainder of the year – including into the warmer spring months of April, May, and June.  We have to limit ourselves to one final transition window to be able to facilitate the challenging student and staff scheduling that needs to take place.

As a reminder, anyone feeling ill should not attend school. All children, students, staff, and visitors must be screened for symptoms of illness every day before attending school or childcare. To help meet this requirement, you may use the provincial COVID-19 school screening tool.  Self-screening will still be a requirement when we return to school and we will continue to reinforce masking and hand hygiene, as well as cohorting and physical distancing with students and our staff.

We encourage you to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in our community – but also please be aware that these could change depending on the most current public health advice. We also suggest checking out the WCDSB website https://www.wcdsb.ca/living-learning-looking-forward/   and Region of Waterloo Public Health website https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/health-and-wellness/2019-novel-coronavirus.aspx as they contain helpful resources and supports.  If you have any questions about what your school is doing, please let your school principal know.

Once again, I want to share that it is perhaps inevitable that when the provincial and regional numbers rise, we too will see some cases.  I realize that if you get a letter saying there has been a case of COVID in your school that it is most unsettling.  If we ask a cohort to quarantine it is to ensure that they remain safe and that the rest of our school community remains safe.  Our safety protocols are working.

We sincerely thank you for journeying with us.   May each of you and your families enjoy a beautiful Christmas Season.  Perhaps it is entirely fine that it will be less social, less focused on material goods, much simpler in every way but firmly focused on family, for isn’t it true that the very first Christmas was exactly that.  Let us continue to be people of hope who celebrate the birth of a tiny babe who shared a powerful message of love and salvation.  Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #InThisTogether  #WeGotThis

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten, Director of Education

December 16th, 2020|

Director of Education’s Annual Report: 2019-20

A highlight of every year for the WCDSB is the release of the Director’s Annual Report.

Every school board in the province is required to produce such a report, and ours is always a comprehensive and wide-ranging look back at the previous year’s many accomplishments.

More than perhaps anything else we produce, it provides a multi-faceted illustration of what we mean when we say our schools are “Heart of the Community”.

You can view the report here: https://annual.wcdsb.ca/