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Upcoming “Virtual” Board Meeting – Monday, April 27, 2020

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. — Monday, April 27, 2020.

Due to the current State of Emergency resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, this meeting will be streamed live on Youtube at: https://youtu.be/M0uh4N1Vn4c

Meeting Agenda

General Information About WCDSB Board Meetings

Information About the Board of Trustees

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and five adult education facilities serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 184-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.

April 24th, 2020|

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

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

It has been a few weeks since we have connected, so we thought it important to offer you a few important updates as we continue to navigate this time of school closure and distance learning.  Let us begin by saying that we truly hope that you and your families are well and that you are finding ways to stay healthy and positive.  As an Easter people we pray that the hope of the season is alive in your homes.  But these are unsettling times for everyone and we believe it is absolutely OK to feel that you are not OK.  We know that each of us has a unique reality and that will position us differently in terms of our ability to walk through this time and to support our children’s learning journey right now.

For the past three weeks we have begun the journey into Educator-led learning and it could not have been done without the tremendous efforts of so many.  We are most appreciative to our staff who have worked so hard to put provisions in place so that we could reach all of our students.  We hope that every student continues to have contact with their teacher(s) and that each one knows that we care for and value each of them.  Your teachers are truly amazing and they are definitely here for you. We will reiterate that our most pressing concern remains student well being – both mentally and physically.  As we have said before, it is not “business as usual”, but we do hope that students are connecting with their teachers as this is our “new normal” for the time being.

We wanted to provide you updates on a few different topics of interest to you and your children.  Know that this is a rapidly changing landscape and with many uncertainties, and as there are many players to both consult and work with, as well as others who provide us vital direction or information, sometimes full clarity takes a little time.

As always, on our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WCDSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to visit our WCDSBPray@Home webpage as well as our FAQ page.  You can also follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.  With that said, a few updates:

Length of the closure: 

We are awaiting direction from the government and Ministry of Education on this point.  We expect it will be forth coming soon.  While it is unlikely we will be returning to our buildings in the short term, full clarity about our return or what that might look like when we do return, may still be a while in coming.

Expectations During Distance Learning:

We realize there are different realities for all of our students and all of our educators.  For that reason, each student and teacher is held to the guidelines the Ministry has provided for minimum hours.  To review what we have shared previously – 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.

Assessment and Evaluation:

Equity has been a significant consideration in this new landscape as not all children are equally positioned to succeed to the best of their ability when learning from home.  We also know that students learning from home can place added pressure on a parent who may be juggling their own work or family related responsibilities.  For these reasons, assessment in elementary is taking the form of feedback or formative assessment, rather than grading.  Students can benefit and continue progressing through this feedback.  For our students in secondary, they will receive both formative and summative assessments – that is feedback and grades, but teachers will be working to support a student’s best outcome and will not be penalized if the current circumstances detract from their ability to succeed.  Marks will not drop below that attained on March 13th, when schools were declared closed.  There is however every opportunity for a mark to improve, and for learning and achievement to be enhanced.

Report Cards:

There will be a report card in June for all students and they will contain grades.  As noted above, those grades will be largely informed by the marks students had attained prior to March 13th, but there is every opportunity for those grades to improve based on any work submitted during this time of distance learning, if there is evidence of growth and/or improved performance.  In the case of graduating students, midterm marks were sent to the Universities and Colleges to assist with post-secondary admission.

Graduation:

We know that graduation is a significant event in the life of a student and his/her family. For this reason, this has been a difficult decision.  Our secondary schools have no option but to postpone graduation ceremonies as a result of venues not being available to us.  As you can appreciate secondary graduations are often large events and so they are not easily accommodated in alternate settings.  We have made the decision that all of our secondary schools will hold their graduations in the fall.  This will in no way impact a student’s ability to actually graduate from high school should they have met the requirements.  We are still in the process of finalizing our decision in relation to grade 8 graduations and will communicate that information as soon as a final decision has been achieved.

Thought Exchange – Your Voice

As most of you will be aware, we recently engaged our stakeholders in an exercise of asking them what questions or concerns they had after one-two weeks of distance learning.  Our survey closed on Tuesday April 21st in the evening and we are now starting to unpack that feedback.  We are thrilled that you took us up on this invitation.  We had just under 2000 participants and approximately 37,000 ratings from all our stakeholders.  We know that at a very high level elementary parents are expressing thoughts about the home learning environment and the types of tasks students are assigned, about feedback and assessment, and about equity.  Secondary parents are sharing thoughts about the nature of student and educator contact, and also about feedback and assessment, as well as issues related to equity.  There are roughly 14 sub-themes in the Thought Exchange feedback that we have identified and there is much more analysis we can do, and it will help to inform our thinking and actions moving forward.  A high level report on parent feedback is available at these two links, but much more will be shared in the weeks to come, that will map to themes and the take-aways from the feedback.

Parent/Guardian for an Elementary Student

Parent/Guardian for a Secondary Student

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a local and 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.  As an Easter people we believe in the power of the resurrection and the promise of new life.  Certainly this signs of the season affirm that promise.  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.  #WCDSBTogether.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                Bill Conway

Director of Education                                  Chair of the Board

April 23rd, 2020|

WCDSB Announces Chair’s Award, Community Partner Award and Distinguished Graduate Award Recipients

Each year, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board proudly announces the recipients of three major awards: Chair’s Award, Community Partner Award and Distinguished Graduate Award.

This year’s recipients of those respective awards are Paul Cox (Principal of the St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres), the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate, and Michael Dopp (Co-founder of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries). The awards will be presented at a suitable time following the conclusion of the current COVID-19 state of emergency.

Chair’s Award:

Presented to a person or persons in the school system who has contributed significantly to Catholic Education. It is given annually in recognition of outstanding contributions made to the Catholic school system serving the students, staff and greater community of Waterloo Region or to the betterment of Catholic Education in Ontario in general.

Paul Cox has been Principal of the WCDSB’s St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres for the past 15 years. In addition to being recognized for his long record of outstanding service, Paul is also saluted for his positive and energetic nature and his willingness to fearlessly seek and accept new opportunities for St. Louis’ diverse population and program base.

For more information about St. Louis, please CLICK HERE.

Community Partner Award:

Presented annually in recognition of outstanding contributions made by a community partner or agency to the Catholic school system serving the students, staff and greater community of Waterloo Region.

For 74 years the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate have run Mount Mary, which over the past 44 years has served more than 55,000 WCDSB students.  Their Grade 8 retreat experience has long been a treasured culminating activity of the WCDSB elementary years experience.

For more information about the Sister Servants of Mary Immaculate, please CLICK HERE.

Distinguished Graduate Award:

Presented to a graduate of more than 10 years from our school system who has demonstrated outstanding examples of the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations. Awarded at the graduation exercises of the recipient’s Secondary School or other appropriate public venue.

A co-founder, along with his wife, of Mission of the Redeemer Ministries in Ottawa, Michael Dopp has been noted as a “trail blazer” by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.  A sought-after speaker, Michael is a graduate of St. Boniface CES and St. Mary’s High School and has dedicated his efforts to evangelization both locally, nationally and internationally, thus exemplifying the very best of the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations.

For more information about Mission of the Redeemer Ministries, please CLICK HERE.

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April 17th, 2020|

Upcoming “Virtual” Board Meeting – Monday, April 20, 2020

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees (Committee of the Whole) is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. — Monday, April 20, 2020.

As a result of the current State of Emergency resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, this meeting will be streamed live on Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCv0UF2Eimw&feature=youtu.be 

Meeting Agenda

General Information About WCDSB Board Meetings

Information About the Board of Trustees

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and five adult education facilities serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 184-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.

April 16th, 2020|

WCDSBLearn@Home – How Are We Doing…?

Thank-you for joining this important conversation! We are interested in learning about how WCDSBLearn@Home is going.

The tool we are using is called ThoughtExchange. Your participation is voluntary, and your feedback will be very important for helping us make sure that we are providing the needed supports for students, staff, parents and community members.

To make sure that the conversation is about the topics most meaningful to you, we have set up separate conversations for different groups. This is why you are asked if you are a student, parent, staff member, administrator, or community member.

Here is the link: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/763676673

Once you have shared your thoughts, you will have the opportunity to read the thoughts of others and assign *STARS* based on how much you agree (5 Stars) or disagree (1 Star).  This helps us determine the ideas that are most important to the group.

We encourage all participants to read and consider 20-30 thoughts.

You can return to the exchange as often as you like to *STAR* thoughts.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you would like to join more that one conversation – choose a new group by opening the invitation link in a new tab in your web browser.

The Survey will remain open until Tuesday April 21, 2020.

If you have any difficulty with the survey, questions can be sent to: wcdsbresearch@wcdsb.ca

Parents/guardians who consent, are also welcome to share this link with their child(ren) to participate in the thought exchange.

For younger children (Grades K-8), please support them in participating as their feedback will be very important during this process.

Thank you in advance for your participation in helping us make WCDSBLearn@Home a success!

April 14th, 2020|

Easter Greetings & a Message of Hope from the Director of Education

Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first,

also went in, and he saw and believed;

for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

Greetings Waterloo Catholic Community –

Over the course of the past few weeks, myself and others have used the word “unprecedented” many a time.  Our reality both locally and globally is unlike any other that we have ever known.  It has coincided for us as Christians with the season of Lent.  On this Holy Thursday unlike any other, as  we prepare for the Holy Triduum, we have a unique opportunity to reflect on how perhaps God is opening the door to us seeing how our current suffering is mirrored by that experienced by Jesus as He journeyed to the cross on Good Friday.  These have not been easy times for anyone and so we have no doubt turned to our faith for solace and inspiration.  And perhaps, as people of faith, on some level, we realize it is not so unprecedented after all.

This was another landmark week for us at Waterloo Catholic.  We are coming to the conclusion of our first week of full Educator-led distance learning.   There have been heroic efforts by so many in our system to bring us to this week, which by any measure, should be applauded.  I have previously spoken about my immense gratitude for our principals, computer technicians, program and student services staff, and all those who brought us to a remarkable state of readiness for this historic week.  Today I take a moment to celebrate and single out all our teachers and students.  It was a brave leap this week.  And possibly you may feel that the learning or experience was not all that you might have wanted it to be, but I sincerely thank and applaud you just the same.  Educators and students alike took a courageous step in these uncertain times and sought to create a meaningful connection, grounded in care and focused on reconnecting with the familiar. For that, I thank you.  We know it was not easy.

We hope that for most it was a positive experience.  That the door was opened to some learning, but more importantly to restoring the strong bond between child and educator.  Next week we will reach out to our community through the ThoughtExchange tool and we will invite you to share your thoughts with us so that we can hear from you and we can continue to reflect on what more we can do to serve our Waterloo Catholic family.  This week our WCDSB web page, and specifically our WCDSBLearn@Home page was populated with new material, including a comprehensive FAQ and new a WCDSBPray@Home link.  We hope that as you have journeyed through Holy Week and as you look to the Easter Season, that this is a site you will visit often.

This is indeed the season of rebirth.  And just as surely, we believe that the son of God suffered and died for us, we also firmly believe that the tomb was empty on Easter Sunday.  That He died so we might live.  So, as we mark the Holy Triduum not in churches, nestled side by side, and as we celebrate Easter Sunday not in the spendour of our parishes and with extended families gathered around tables, let us pause.  Pause to remember that we are not alone.  Not one of us.  That Jesus walks with us.  And that each of us is #CalledToBelong as a member of Christ’s family and of Waterloo Catholic’s family.  And as surely as Mary Magdalene and the disciples found faith and hope, we too will find new life in the days ahead.

Let me wish each of you all the blessings of the Easter Season.  Let us find joy in the simpler things we are being invited to notice.  Let us find hope in the resurrection and in each other.  This Easter Season may you be released from your burdens of worry and may your hearts fill with the hope of new life.

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

April 9th, 2020|

Kindergarten Registration is STILL Open!!

Several years ago, we established a very easy-to-use online pre-registration portal to make the registration process as convenient as possible.

Parents of children scheduled to begin JK in September 2020, are encouraged to complete the pre-registration process as soon as possible.

There will still need to be some in-person contact with the school, but that will be handled at an appropriate time after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.

For non-Catholic families wishing to register in a WCDSB elementary school, your school Principal will reach out to you to complete the required interview process – again – at an appropriate time in in the most appropriate manner, including via phone.

Please CLICK HERE for all the information you need to start the registration process!

April 7th, 2020|

Updated WCDSBLearn@Home Website

Beginning April 6th, what the Ministry of Education is calling “Phase 2” or “Educator-Led” Learning will commence at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. Schools will continue to be closed but learning will continue — involving a combination of distance learning tools for students.

Please visit our special WCDSBLearn@Home website for information and resources complied to support the government’s plan.

The resources on this site can supplement and support Educator-led learning. You may not need all of these resources, but if you find yourself needing assistance with creating a positive learning environment for your children, we hope they can provide some assistance.

Under the Educator-led learning plan, the government has outlined the minimum expectations for student work-time in a given week, based on learning materials and work assigned by your student’s teacher. These expectations, for each teacher, include:

  • Kindergarten to grade three: Five hours of work per student per week, with a focus on literacy and math;
  • Grades four to six: Five hours of work per week, with a focus on literacy, math, science, and social studies;
  • Grades seven to eight: 10 hours of work per week, with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies; and,
  • Grades nine to 12: Three hours of work per course per week for semestered students, and 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students, with a focus on credit accumulation and graduation.

The WCDSBLearn@Home website will be updated on an ongoing basis, so please visit often.

April 3rd, 2020|

Upcoming “Virtual” Board Meeting – Monday, April 6, 2020

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. — Monday, April 6, 2020.

This meeting takes the place of the regular Board of Trustees meeting originally scheduled for Monday, March 23, 2020.

As a result of the current State of Emergency resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, this meeting will be held remotely, on the Microsoft Teams platform.

Details on How to Access the Meeting

Link: Join Microsoft Teams Meeting

Or teleconference: +1 226-241-2413

Canada, Kitchener-Waterloo (Toll)

Conference ID: 893 145 653#

Meeting Agenda

The meeting will be streamed on YouTube. https://youtu.be/zSD9WL_WuJc

General Information About WCDSB Board Meetings

Information About the Board of Trustees

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and five adult education facilities serving more than 40,000 elementary, secondary and continuing education students in Waterloo Region – continuing a 184-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.

April 2nd, 2020|

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|