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Secondary School Transition Survey for St. Isidore Virtual Learning School

Dear Parents / Guardians:

When we commenced the school year back in early September, we announced that the first transition point for families of secondary school students to switch their children from virtual learning to face to face learning (or vice versa), would come in November, at the end of the first Quadmester.

Please note that your opportunity to state your preference for a transfer for your child’s learning mode begins at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 19, 2020, and ends at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

A special online survey has been created for you to state your choice. The survey is not yet active. It will be activated at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 19th.

You only need to complete the survey if you are looking for a transfer.

The form will be available on our main webpage in the spotlight section – www.wcdsb.ca

Please ensure you complete the survey during the stated October 19th to 21st time fame, as there will be no requests for changes granted after the survey closes.  It closes at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, October 21st.

Thank you for taking the time to state your choice and for assisting us in having the staffing, resources and programming in place to assist the ongoing learning and success of your children.

October 15th, 2020|

Special Thanksgiving Message from the Director of Education

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

It has been exactly one month since we made our first tentative steps back to full learning at Waterloo Catholic.  Today, as we stand on the cusp of the Thanksgiving Weekend, I must reflect that despite some of the obvious challenges, we have much for which we can be grateful.  While it is most certainly difficult to contemplate a Thanksgiving table that might not be as populated as we might like it to be and while we may share concern about the presence of COVID-19 in our lives, it has been a sincere joy to welcome our students back to learning.

This next week the Waterloo Catholic community pastoral plan makes the transition from Called to Belong to our second year theme of Gathered to Become.  So, while this past year we could reflect that we were (and are) indeed a connected community grounded in hope and our shared faith, this year we celebrate the transformation that happens when we gather around the table of our Lord.  We celebrate the gift and power of the Eucharist.  What a well-timed reminder that in our schools, our staff and students are called as community and transformed in their learning and by their faith journey.  As we gather around our Thanksgiving tables, we offer gratitude that even in small numbers, we share God’s love, the opportunity to access education, and the gift of sharing the hope provided by Christ.

We are one month into our new school year and as I have visited some of our schools I have seen the resilience of our students, their appreciation in being able to learn with their teachers and their friends again, and I have witnessed staff who seem genuinely pleased to be back in their schools, connecting with one another, their vocation and their students.  We feel so blessed that to date our schools have remained fully safe places to be.  We have had only 2 early cases of COVID across all of our schools, over this full month, and both cases are now resolved.  We have had no cases of school transmission and indeed across the province, those cases are very few and far between.  Our students are benefitting socially and emotionally by being back together and by experiencing school as a young person is intended to experience school.  In community.

We are so proud of the many accomplishments of our system.  This is a most timely occasion to offer thanks to our staff for all they have done to adapt to our new circumstances, for their commitment, be it in our face-to-face school or in our virtual school, St Isidore.  Central and school-based staff alike went the extra mile to ensure we were ready and to provide their very best for our students.  For that we truly do thank them.  We did have some families who, when given the choice a second time, did choose to move to virtual learning.  As a result, we are preparing to move some teachers from our conventional classrooms to our virtual school.  This has caused some re-organization at the school level and the move will be effective Tuesday, October 13th.  We apologize for this inconvenience.  We realize this is not ideal, but we have neither the staff nor the money to simply add additional teachers to St Isidore.  We sincerely appreciate your understanding in this matter.

We are living and learning in unique times.  Above all else, the health and safety of our staff and students remains our number one priority.  As the province, public health and provincial health authorities have updated their guidance to us, we too have updated our guidance to you.  We realize that sometimes there is a great deal to process.  For our students there has been a new daily self-assessment tool released in the past week.  The tool allows for 2 levels of screening, and narrows down those children who should be sent for testing versus those who should simply stay home until symptoms have resolved.   Please remember that all students (or parents on their behalf) should complete this updated self-screening tool every day:  COVID-19 school and child care screening tool and a reminder that no staff should come to school without completing the COVID-19 adult self-assessment:  The process of self screening each day is a vital step in ensuring the continued safety of all our schools, so sincere thanks to all for remaining faithful to this and to all our required protocols.

We are so very happy to be back to learning in our schools.  We are so fortunate to have the sure knowledge that we are called together as a family in Christ, and in the Eucharist we are gathered as community to be become so much more than we are as individuals.  Let’s continue to be grounded in the faith, hope and love of Christ for surely that will be our strength in times of adversity.

We sincerely wish every member of our Waterloo Catholic family a restorative and healthy Thanksgiving weekend, rich in the blessings and bounty of this beautiful season. 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  #WeGotThis

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten, Director of Education

October 8th, 2020|

Upcoming Board Meeting – Monday, October 5, 2020

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. — Monday, October 5, 2020 — at the Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre.

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.

October 1st, 2020|

WCDSB Board Meeting Bulletin — September 2020

Meetings

Committee of the Whole Board Meeting

Monday, September 14, 2019 – Meeting Agenda Package

Public Board Meeting

Monday, September 28, 2019 — Meeting Agenda Package

Highlights

Summer Boost Program Report

The WCDSB offered 15 mornings of literacy and numeracy online learning support for students in Grades SK to Grade 7 through the Summer Boost 2020 program which ran from June 29 to July 20 (9-11 am). The program was supported with educational assistants and special education teachers. Summer Boost created opportunities for students to make new friends online and hone their literacy and numeracy skills through fun and engaging stories, games, activities, and weekly STEM challenges. Summer Boost utilized online resources such as Google Classroom, Lexia, Knowledgehook and MathUp as well as encouraged the use of the STEM Learn@Home kits. Students registered based on school site and learning profile with a maximum of 15 students per class. Students had a variety of opportunities for hands on virtual learning and were challenged to engage in regular physical activity. They engaged in fun literacy/numeracy activities at home virtually while receiving an integrated arts education as cooperative activities were designed each week to promote creative and thinking and expression through music, drama, and visual arts.

This year presented both challenges and opportunities to keep student motivated, engaged and interested through virtual learning. While the requirement for a fitness and activity program (in addition to the 30 hours of student instruction) had been removed for this year, many boards are reporting exciting ways to provide integrated online learning activities to keep students actively involved. e.g. virtual tour of a library (preferably a local library) connected to their literacy program, teacher led fitness break for students (not a recess break), virtual tour/Youtube video of local historical site integrated into student learning activities, visual of math manipulatives and mathematics strategies etc.

The report begins on page 13 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

International Education Program Update

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on International Education around the world. The economic and psychological impact on families has reduced the level of engagement in international education globally. Travel restrictions related to border closures and reduced flight availability have limited the ability for international students to enter our country. In Canada, borders closed to travel March 18, 2020. International students with study permits approved prior to March 18 were provided an exemption. Students with permits issued after this date are currently not eligible to enter the country. Due to the travel uncertainty, approximately one-third of our 155 returning students remained in Canada over the summer. Currently, we have 144 new or returning international students registered for studies in September. Of these students, 29 will be engaging in distance learning from their home country; eleven of these are new students to our system. The Ministry of Education has permitted school districts to issue OEN’s to students new to our school system who are beginning their learning in their home country. The goal is to have these students travel to Canada as soon as borders open. That being said, the Ministry will allow them to complete a full year of studies earning credits through distance learning from their home country if necessary.

The WCDSB’s Attestation of Readiness and supporting documentation will be forwarded to the Ministry of Education and reviewed by them jointly with Federal health authorities to determine a list of qualified districts. The intention would be to extend the exemption to all international students with valid study permits to approved school districts to enter the country, regardless of the issue date of their permit. This approval would open the border to our students presently studying through distance learning in their home country. It would also open the borders to new international students applying to our system.

The report begins on page 34 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Headstart

For the past 10 years, WCDSB has used Grade 7-10 Literacy and Numeracy Continuing Education funds to deliver a brief, yet timely, wholistic, non-credit preparation summer program for incoming Grade 9 students to each of our five Catholic Secondary Schools. At the end of August each year, hundreds of students voluntarily participate in Get a HeadStart to Grade 9 (HeadStart) with the hope to ease their social anxieties, increase their academic readiness, engage in practical learning experiences that are both hands-on and digital, and to nurture those academic, social and spiritual connectors critical to school start-up success. In 2010, HeadStart engaged 86 students across all 5 Catholic Schools and we have now reached between 900-1000 students (a 50%+ participation rate for all incoming Gr. 9’s).

The program format has changed a few times over the last decade. HeadStart 2020 was originally planned as a two day, full day format and offered to two different cohorts to accommodate as many students as possible and employing potentially 35 teachers over four days. The Continuing Education Literacy / Numeracy grant allowed for lower teacher to student ratios, so when programming had to be shifted to accommodate Covid-19 restrictions, the funding envelope supported smaller class sizes.

Despite all the challenges of operating in the COVID-19 era, post-program D2L student surveys showed that 85% of the students DID feel more confident entering into high school and 90% of students would absolutely recommend HeadStart to a sibling or friend.

The report begins on page 30 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Summer Construction Update

During the 2019-2020 school year, numerous construction projects were undertaken at many of our schools throughout the Region. All projects were funded by the Ministry of Education and were related to building renewal, school condition improvement, and capital projects. Approximately $3.7 million was spent on school renewal projects, which capture non-building envelope items such as flooring, millwork, and painting. School condition improvement (SCI) funding was used for repairs to building components, energy efficiency projects, and improving accessibility. Total spending on SCI was approximately $6.9 million. Most of the work performed was completed during a nine-week period through July and August.

In addition to these renovation and renewal projects, an additional $12 million was spent on major capital projects including the ongoing construction of the new St. Boniface CES, completion of Phase 2 renovations at St. Clement CES, and renovations to St. Francis in Kitchener.

In mid-2020, the Ministry of Education announced their approval of funding to support the following projects:

  • Huron Brigadoon Catholic Elementary School Additional Funding – $6,162,784 (total project – $16.5M)
    • Current status: architect request for proposal document to be released in October. Expected school opening September 2022.
  • East Kitchener (7-12) Project – $37,699,818
    • Current status: launching program review which will inform program delivery model and facility design. Expected school opening September 2023.
  • South East Galt Catholic Elementary School – $8,652,378
    • Current status: partners in joint campus proposal are developing site concepts with a goal of determining potential interdependencies and integration of operations. Expected school opening September 2022.

The report begins on page 35 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Information Technology Services Update Summer 2020

The Information Technology Services (ITS) department had a very busy summer preparing for the 2020/21 school year. Covid-19 preparations, restrictions and technology requirements have presented a level of complexity and unique work made the summer very challenging. ITS successfully completed many technology related projects and initiatives that aligned with the Multi-Year Strategic Plan, which will enable staff and students to excel in the coming year in these unique times.

Key highlights include:

  • WCDSB moves into virtual learning due to COVID-19
  • Webcams distributed to all classroom data projector computers
  • Expansion of “Bring Your Own Device” Program
  • Classroom technology refresh (including classroom data projectors)
  • Identification of safe applications for educators and students (352 identified & categorized)
  • Phone system refresh
  • Launch of St. Isidore virtual school
  • Development of web resources and social media to support remote learning
  • Student data management system transition from “Trillium” to Follett Aspen
  • Implementation of School Messenger for elementary schools

Goals for 2020-21:

  • To continue implementation of emerging technologies that enable forward thinking, global education;
  • To ensure all program offerings are tied to student need and stakeholder interests, and that they will equip students to become globally engaged responsible citizens; and
  • To increase staff efficiency and reduce workloads though process improvements.

The report begins on page 39 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Board Chair’s Update

Each month, Board Chair Bill Conway reports on the activities of the Board of Trustees. The report for September 2020 is available on page 60 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Student Trustees Update

On September 28, the Board of Trustees welcomed incoming Student Trustees Abby Barbosa and Kate Morrison. Their first Student Trustees Update – covering activities in WCDSB’s secondary schools — is available beginning on page 59 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package

Upcoming Board Meetings

Committee of the Whole Board Meeting

Monday, October 5, 2020: Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre

Regular Public Board Meeting

Monday, October 28, 2019: Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board, representing more than 96,000 Catholic school supporters, operates 48 schools and four 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.

October 1st, 2020|

Important New Guidelines for Siblings of Ill Students

We have had a very good start to the school year so far, and our staff are doing a great job keeping our schools healthy, clean and safe.  All of our COVID safety protocols appear to be working and we are so grateful to all our staff and students.

Last Thursday (September 24th), Region of Waterloo Public Health updated the guidance and protocols involving school attendance for siblings of ill students.

PREVIOUSLY – any school-attending sibling(s) or parent(s) of ill students were required to “self-isolate” at home until their ill sibling / child had either received a negative COVID-19 test OR been cleared by a doctor to return to school — and were free of COVID-19 symptoms for 24 hours.

NOW — any school-attending sibling(s) or parent(s) of ill students are allowed to attend school so long as they are asymptomatic themselves and will rigorously “self-monitor” for the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. This means a sibling will NOT be sent home at the same time as a child who may not be feeling well. However, their ill sibling must still self-isolate until they have either received a negative COVID-19 test OR been cleared by a doctor to return to school – and are free of COVID-19 symptoms for 24 hours.

PLEASE NOTE — Symptomatic children or school staff who have a known exposure to a case of COVID-19 during their infectious period or have travelled in the past 14 days, (and their household contacts) must still self-isolate pending the test result of the symptomatic individual, and must not attend work or school until the symptomatic individual(s) receive a negative test.

We do want to continue maintaining safe and healthy learning environments for all our students, so we also encourage all families and individuals to use the Ontario government’s school screening tool, available at: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

The screening tool is also available on our WCDSB homepage at https://www.wcdsb.ca/

Please look for the yellow banner at the top of that page.

September 29th, 2020|

Upcoming Board Meeting – Monday, September 28, 2020

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. — Monday, September 28, 2020 — at the Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre.

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.

September 24th, 2020|

Special Message from the Administrator Team at St. Isidore Virtual Learning School

Dear Parents and Care Givers, 

I am writing to provide you with an update regarding remote learning at St. Isidore K-12 Catholic Virtual Schools. First, I would like to take a moment to thank you for your patience as we work through this unprecedented task of creating an entire school for over 3000 students in just a few short weeks. We know you are anxious to have your children begin their online learning classes, and we are very eager to meet your children and begin building relationships with them to create vibrant learning communities. There are several items I would like to provide updates for. I know you have many questions, so hopefully this will help to address some of them. 

The sheer size of the school has created unanticipated challenges and as such we have had to adjust our start dates – BOTH elementary and secondary students will begin their classes on September 17th

Early next week your child’s teacher will make contact to introduce him or herself and to make sure your child is ready to begin learning on the 17th. At this time, the teacher will provide you with details regarding the learning platform to be used (D2L or Google Classroom) and well as some details regarding the class schedule.

All students should be prepared to attend learning from 8:30 to 3:00.

However, please rest assured that they will not be sitting in front of a computer for the entire time – there will be body breaks and recess/ lunch breaks as well as times to work independently, to engage with their peers and to speak 1:1 with the teacher. We are planning to vary the teaching and learning activities and routines to help students engage in their learning and be active partners in creating the learning environment. 

If, in the Board Return to School Survey, you indicated that your family needed a Chromebook, your home school will be in contact with you to arrange for you to borrow one from the school. Please watch for messages from the school regarding this process. Since the survey closed, you may have identified that you will need more support. Please contact your home school Administration as they will help arrange this for you.  

You may have seen in the news that the WCDSB is providing Elementary Student Learning Kits to all students in K-8. IF you would like one, please contact your home school to arrange to pick one up, as they were all delivered there.  

Finally, on behalf of our staff, we would like to continue to welcome you and your children to St. Isidore.  We are so excited to begin this journey together. There have been bumps in the road as we get things up and running, and I am sure there will be others along the way, but I believe that when we work together, when we support each other and keep your children’s education and wellness at our guide, that we can do great things together.   

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @IsidoreVirtual for up to date information. Our Web page will also be live soon! 

Peace and Blessings,  

Carla Santomero, Principal

Dawn Butson , Elementary Vice Principal

David Jaeger, Secondary Vice Principal  

 

September 11th, 2020|

Upcoming Board Meeting – Monday, September 14, 2020

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. — Monday, September 14, 2020 — at the Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre.

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.

September 11th, 2020|

Special Message from the Administrator Team at St. Isidore Virtual Learning School

Dear Parents and Caregivers:  

Welcome to St. Isidore K-12 Virtual Learning School. We are excited to work with you this year and are looking forward to many exciting learning opportunities.  Currently, we are reaching out to update you on our Elementary and Secondary Virtual Learning. We know there are many questions, and we will try to address some of them here. Our school website is currently under construction on the https://www.wcdsb.ca/site and will provide you with more information once complete.    

St. Isidore students will be assigned to a qualified WCDSB teacher and will be with other same grade children in a Virtual Learning classroom. This class will have its own digital learning platform (either D2L or Google Classroom) and instruction will occur online through asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities. The amount of time students will spend in Virtual Learning will be equal to the same amount of time as students who chose in-person learning (approximately 300 minutes/day). Students in both Elementary and Secondary will ‘attend’ school daily between 8:30 am and 3:00 pm. It is expected that students in the Virtual Learning Model participate every day; attendance will be monitored and recorded.  

Ontario curriculum will be taught, assessed and evaluated according to Ministry of Education Curriculum documents and following Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario Schools. St. Isidore teachers will provide synchronous learning opportunities which will include a combination of whole class instruction, individual or small group support (video conferencing via Google Meet / Teams, phone calls, etc.), student presentations, mini-lessons and content/skill-based instruction, as appropriate.  

Children who have IEPs or are English Language Learners will continue to be supported and your child’s home school Special Education and ESL staff will work with St. Isidore staff to create or update IEPs and individualized learning plans for students requiring support. Guidance, and social work support will also be provided via your child’s home school.  

Over the next few days, we will continue to staff St. Isidore and create class lists. We have approximately 3100 students selecting the Virtual Learning option and as such this process takes time. During the week of September 8 – 11 teachers will be reaching out to the students in their classes to introduce themselves. Staff will seek to ensure that all students have the necessary technology to support the virtual learning and that they can access the Learning Platforms so that we can begin creating classroom communities. Classes for Elementary students will begin on September 14th, and our secondary students will begin classes on September 17th.   

Once again, we look forward to the opportunity to learn with your children, and we appreciate your patience as we work to ensure a strong start to the coming year.   

Your Administration Team, 

Carla Santomero, Principal

Dawn Butson , Elementary Vice Principal

David Jaeger, Secondary Vice Principal  

 

September 4th, 2020|
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