Committee of the Whole Board Meeting
Monday, November 9, 2020 – Meeting Agenda Package
Public Board Meeting
Monday, November 23, 2020 — Meeting Agenda Package
2020 Community Planning and Partnership Report
It is the role of school board management to determine which facilities are suitable for partnerships and which entities are suitable as partners. These decisions are made in a way that is well-informed, well-coordinated, transparent, and consistent with the goals and priorities of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan, WCDSB’s Catholic values and social teachings, as well as student achievement, well-being and safety.
Suitable space for sharing with a partner, is defined by APF012 as:
- 200 surplus pupil places or a school utilization at or below 70% and this trend is expected to continue
- No accommodation review within the next 3 years
- Space not required for school resources or other board programming
- Size and configuration of the available space
- Ability to separate the partnership space from student areas
- Availability of separate exterior entrance
- Adequate parking for both the school and partner needs
- Site use restrictions
- Facility condition including the adequacy of utilities
- Municipal zoning bylaw restrictions
- Other criteria as appropriate
Currently, no WCDSB schools are suitable candidates for community partnership opportunities.
The report begins on page 7 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Pastoral Plan Update
Catholic schools exist to support the evangelizing mission of the Church. Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools with certain expectations. The overriding expectation is that their daughter/son will experience education permeated with religious values, religious instruction and be invited to participate in the sacramental life of the church. To this end, we endeavor to provide opportunities to live out and inform our faith through implementation of our Pastoral Plan, which is informed by the Ontario Bishops’ pastoral letter, Renewing the Promise.
Due to ongoing labour action — and then school closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic — our Year 2 Pastoral Plan launch was delayed.
While we continue to be unable to gather for larger events due to public health protocols, we used a video launch in early October to transition from Called to Belong to Gathered to Become.
Highlights of Gathered to Become activities include:
- Pastoral Plan banners placed in the entranceways of all WCDSB schools
- Commissioning of Gathered to Become song by Jan Bentham, a retired Ottawa Catholic DSB teacher, to be used throughout the pastoral year and included in our launch video
- Gathered to Become Video launch: https://youtu.be/PBQFPsoeE9Q
- Becoming Butterfly (& chrysalis) will visit each school site for one week throughout the 2020-2021 school year with accompanying support activities
- Gathered to Become Divisional Videos (Prepared by our Elementary Chaplains, Heejung Cho and Sarah Kwiecinski)
- Video Read Alouds of The Marvelous Mustard Seed and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by our Learning Commons staff for primary students
- Partnership with the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory who will provide activities and content to discover what it means to be a species at risk in Canada. This aligns with celebrating Laudato Si’ (5th year anniversary) and the call to care for our Common Home by Pope Francis
- Google meet experience with Saint John’s Bible to explore Becoming Transformed through the Word of God. Included in this experience is a session on Bugs in the Bible
- Virtual Gr. 8 Retreats developing theme of Gathered to Become / Transformation until Mount Mary and Camp Brebeuf are accessible
- Virtual tours of Parish Churches continue, and recent invite went out to priests at the Waterloo Deanery Meeting
- Adult faith formation activities: Margaret Silf book club to reflect on Hidden Wings (2017) and Born to Fly (2017), two books on the theme of transformation in the Ignatius spiritual tradition
- Family of School Pastoral Team workshop/meetings to support the ongoing work of animating our pastoral year led by Religion and Family Life Consultant
Videos highlighting the pastoral theme and Tweets celebrating #Gathered to Become can be found at:
The report begins on page 10 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
ESL and ELD
For many decades, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board has celebrated the contributions of its English Language Learners (ELLs) and worked to meet their needs in a variety of settings. English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers continue to work in all our schools to support staff, students, and families in developing language skills necessary for success in a changing society.
Support for ELLs is articulated in the WCDSB’s Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement (BIPSA) as educators are called upon to clearly know the needs of these students and respond to them in a collaborative and effective manner. As well, the Board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan (MYSP) identifies and promotes the use of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy as a strategy to meet the goals of achievement and well-being.
English as a Second Language (ESL) programs are for students whose first language is other than English or is a variety of English significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools. Students in these programs have had educational opportunities to develop age-appropriate first-language literacy skills.
English Literacy Development (ELD) programs are for students whose first language is other than English or is a variety of English significantly different from that used for instruction in Ontario schools. Students in these programs are most often from countries in which their access to education has been limited, and they have had limited opportunities to develop language and literacy skills in any language. Schooling in their countries of origin has been inconsistent, disrupted, or even completely unavailable throughout the years that these children would otherwise have been in school. As a result, they arrive in Ontario schools with significant gaps in their education. We refer to these students as SLIFE, Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education.
Data indicate a steady increase in the number of students registering at the WCDSB (JK-Grade 12) from various countries all over the world. A large majority of these students have English as an Additional Language Learning needs, at the earliest steps to proficiency. Many students are arriving to us as SLIFE, requiring foundational literacy and language development and orientation to school life in Ontario.
Despite travel/immigration restrictions due to COVID-19, the Newcomer Reception Centre (NRC) has welcomed over 50 students to the WCDSB, some being new immigrants (parent study/work permit, or Permanent Resident), and many as secondary migrants from other provinces such as Alberta and Manitoba
The report begins on page 64 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Special Education Update
Ensuring the well being and safety of students and staff is the central, overall goal for WCDSB during the 2020-2021 school year within the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Education and Public Health directed an adapted return to learn for our secondary students and a conventional return to learn for our elementary students in September of 2020. The Ministry of Education also mandated the option for students to attend a virtual school setting (e.g., St. Isidore at WCDSB) if not opting for the adaptive or conventional return.
The Ministry of Education advised that students with high needs attend school full time if the adaptive model was deemed the mode of delivery at a board level. This was a thoughtful decision on the part of the Ministry as the virtual learning environment is very challenging for many students with Special Education needs. Staff in Student Services have completed departmental goals in the form of logic models to frame the work of our staff in ensuring academic achievement and well being for our students.
The November 23 report provides details on the following:
- COVID-19 Infographics & Tip Sheets
- Developmental Skills for COVID-19 Protocols
- Assistive Technology – Reaching Students and Staff Through Remote/Virtual Training
- Education and Community Partnership Program (Section 23)
- The Young Adult Program (YAP)
- Lutherwood Day Treatment Program – U12
- Hope Harbour House
- Child and Adolescent Inpatient Psychiatry (CAIP)
The report begins on page 70 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Mental Health Update
In the unique situation with the global pandemic, we have adapted our practices to place a very strong emphasis on preparing our system to promote a mentally healthy return-to-school. Our annual plan provides the broader objectives of what we hope to achieve over the course of the year, while remaining flexible and adaptive as the needs of our students and system evolve.
A new Board Scan – adapted to focus the work that needs to unfold in the context of COVID-19 – will be released by School Mental Health Ontario later this fall and will continue to inform the work we will do to achieve these overarching goals for the 2020-2021 school year:
- To strengthen system-wide commitment to WCDSB’s vision for mental health and wellbeing through initiatives which engage students, parents, and staff in working towards mentally healthy school communities.
- To continue to support strengths-based, trauma-informed practice in the education setting
- To build staff capacity to support students and ourselves in mental health and wellbeing.
- To continue to expand and strengthen our community partnerships, creating a coordinated and integrated pathway of care for students
- To continue to promote and educate regarding our Suicide, Self-harm, and Depression protocol, while continuing to review prevention programming, interventions and postvention unique to the needs of students within WCDSB.
- To promote evidence-informed practice across all three Tiers with clear and measurable objectives.
Over the course of 2019-20 we continued to prioritize equipping staff, students, and families with the knowledge they need to promote positive mental health in their students. This included PD opportunities that reached more than 2,664 staff, students, and/or families with tailored training to targeted groups including the Secondary School Improvement Heads, the Student Success Team, the Vision Itinerants, Guidance Teachers, EA’s, CYCW’s, and Parent Councils. We also made substantial investment in co-facilitating the Mo Willems Emotional Literacy lessons in multiple classrooms at two targeted schools.
The WCDSB Mental Health and Well Being Action Plan for 2020-21 is provided as part of the report, which begins on page 78 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Update on WCDSB COVID Education Delivery
At the current time, Waterloo Region’s Catholic schools are engaged in learning under our new COVID-19 reality. Our staff, students and parents have been introduced to a new way of experiencing learning and their schools, be that in our face to face learning environment or in the newly conceived virtual environment. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of a traditional school experience and the staff of our board have planned, prepared, and have now implemented this new reality.
As we end November 2020, we have approximately 4,187 students learning virtually and 19,900 students learning face to face. Thus, at this point approximately 17% of our total student population has opted for the virtual learning environment. We are averaging 7 positive COVID-19 cases a week in our schools, but in virtually all cases, the positive case runs its course, with very few instances of any transmission. We have had since re-opening just two limited outbreaks which again were quickly resolved. This is a strong indication that all our protocols are working. All cases begin with an origin in community and we are seeing WCDSB as a reflection of the broader community.
The transition of additional students at the Thanksgiving benchmark resulted in an additional 29 teachers transitioning to St. Isidore, resulting in a total of 119 virtual classes, K-8.
Our start up thus far has gone smoothly. The fact that our schools are open and thriving is a huge accomplishment. As our parents said in our recent ThoughtExchange – Great Job! It is a reflection of our stellar staff. We believe our schools and workplaces remain safe, but the desire for choice has been presented to parents and we realize people are in different places with their comfort level with COVID-19.
We have had parents share success stories of their children’s joy in being back in a face to face learning environment, and we hear success stories of the work happening by our St. Isidore team. Health and safety must remain our primary concern and motivator. Things do continue to evolve despite the best of planning. What continues to remain constant is the dedication and resilience of our staff, students and WCDSB community.
Finally, the month of November has also provided an opportunity to celebrate Anti-Bullying Cyber-Awareness Month. A multi-media virtual campaign inviting students to answer a series of challenge questions helped to raise the profile of many activities that were shared for the classroom. It is important to find new ways to continue to celebrate the milestone events and focus themes that characterize a school year. Further, we do hope that wellbeing and mental health will be nourished on the solid foundation of our Spiritual Development Day. Our spiritual wellbeing and the strength we receive through this important day in our calendar cannot be understated. With keynote speakers David Wells and Kike Ojo-Thompson we were able to dig deep into the emotions people are feeling, the challenges that we are experiencing and a constructive, hope-filled path forward.
The report begins on page 87 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 November 2020 is available on page 94 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Student Trustees Update
Student Trustees Abby Barbosa and Kate Morrison presented their monthly update – covering activities in WCDSB’s secondary schools. It is available beginning on page 91 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Upcoming Board Meetings
Monday, December 7, 2020
Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre
Regular Public Board Meeting
Monday, December 14, 2020
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.
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