Special Message from the Chair of the Board & Director of Education

March 31, 2020

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

We hope that you and your family are well and staying healthy.  Today we learned, that as a key part of the Government of Ontario response to the COVID19 crisis, that the closure to schools is extending to May 1st, 2020.  The government will continue to monitor the situation and further extensions or updates may occur.  We reiterate, that these decisions are being informed by a concern for preserving the health and safety of all, and in this regard we know that each of us shares a common goal.  Realizing that this extension of the closure was likely, and as previously communicated, both the provincial Ministry of Education and locally here at Waterloo Catholic, we have been preparing for remote teacher-led learning.

Today the Ministry released a memo that provides explicit guidance to all of us about expectations for learning.  It provides an outline of the number of hours teachers and students should engage in learning – based on their grade level.  To be clear – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity.  There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.

Both Waterloo Catholic and the Ministry of Education have been thoughtful about matters of equity, as they apply to access to technology, to internet, language barriers, students with special needs and varying home environments.  All to say – this is not a “business as usual” learning environment but at Waterloo Catholic we will strive to do our very best to ensure each student feels valued and is connected to learning.  One thing we are doing in this regard is working on Chromebook distribution to those families who indicated the need for a learning device.  Your local school will provide more detail if you are an affected family.  Deployment is happening this week.  That said – at Waterloo Catholic, our number one priority will be ensuring that each child experiences connection and that they know their teacher cares.

We would also like to draw attention to the fact that while there will be consistent expectations for students in the same grade, that optional, additional activities will also be made available to all students.  On our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WDCSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.

We understand that there is added anxiety for students who are in senior grades of high school or in graduating years.  This too is something to which we are very attuned.  The Ministry has provided some direction today and there will be ongoing conversations and plans that will be communicated in relation to these students.  Certainly there is an intent that no student on track to graduate – or any student – should be negatively impacted by the current public health crisis.

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  We wish your family good health as we look ahead to Holy Week.  Please continue to remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  Our faith will be a source of comfort and strength, as will the sure knowledge that after the pain and heartache of Good Friday, comes the hope, joy and new life of Easter.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                Bill Conway

Director of Education                                  Chair of the Board

 

March 31st, 2020|

Introducing – WCDSBLearn @ Home

Dear Parents / Caregivers –

As you may be aware, on March 20th the Ontario government launched the Learn at Home online portal to provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Learn at Home offers all students high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French.

Elementary resources are designed to help young students learn at home with interactive activities that encourage participation through entertaining and stimulating digital content.

High school content was designed with a focus on STEAM courses and ensure core competencies and skills are reinforced. The government is also providing access to course content for students who take the initiative to refresh and extend their learning.

In conjunction with this important initiative, our staff continue to work very hard creating a plan to ensure that your child is connected to local learning opportunities on an ongoing basis as we navigate our way through these very challenging times.

If you have not already, you will soon be contacted by your child’s teacher to check in, explain what to expect in coming weeks and discuss any specific learning or resource needs. We look forward to moving to teacher-initiated learning beginning on Monday, April 6.

To assist in that process, we have developed our own WCDSBLearn @ Home website.

In coming days we will be adding resources and information to help keep the learning process moving forward – including a link to all of the outstanding resources and ideas that were provided during #STEAMDays, as well as some important mental health and well being information.

The site will be updated regularly, as new resources become available.  But starting April 6th you child will have regular Teacher-led learning coming directly to them.  We are using the time to ensure we have equity of access and consistency in terms of how we are moving forward during these exceptional times.

We also want to again acknowledge that this could be a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for our students. We are truly blessed to have our faith and prayer to aid us at this time.  Our God walks with us always and the Holy Father reminds us that prayer is a sign that we are not alone.

Finally – we encourage you to continue closely following any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  We wish your family good health.

Please remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk as a hope-filled community of faith toward the season of Easter and the re-birth it brings.

March 27th, 2020|

Special Message from the Chair of the Board & Director of Education

March 24, 2020

Dear Parents / Caregivers –

Since last we reached out to you, the global situation in relation to COVID-19 has continued to worsen and here at home we have seen unprecedented actions taken by our federal and provincial governments.  As you know, schools are now closed and it would appear that this will stretch beyond the Easter weekend, although exactly when we might return to face to face learning is not yet clear.  These decisions are being informed by a concern for preserving the health and safety of all, and in this regard we know that each of us shares this common goal.  Nonetheless, the news that students will be home indefinitely may be disconcerting to you and your child.

We want to assure you that at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, we will be working to the best of our ability and in collaboration with the province, to ensure that your child is connected to learning opportunities.  We will use the initial two weeks for the board to support our teachers in establishing at least an initial contact with all of their students through the most appropriate means possible, including mail, phone, email or other channel.  We will try to use this time to establish what is needed to support teacher-led learning and to aid you as families, to the best of our abilities under the circumstances.

We also want to acknowledge that this could be a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for our students.  We would encourage you to visit our board website where a number of resources can be found that may be helpful to you or your child, as you navigate this time.  We are also truly blessed to have our faith and prayer to aid us at this time.  Our God walks with us always and the Holy Father reminds us that prayer is a sign that we are not alone.

While we are in the process of “gearing up”, we would remind parents that WCDSB has launched #STEAMDays, a fun and interactive way to be connected to activities that have a daily focus on science, technology, engineering, the arts or mathematics.  Further, the Ministry of Education has launched the website Learn at Home and you are encouraged to visit that site for learning activities.

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a g