Committee Of the Whole Board Meeting
Monday, October 4, 2021 – Meeting Agenda Package
Public Board Meeting
Monday, October 25, 2021 — Meeting Agenda Package
Information Technology Services Update — Summer 2021
The Information Technology Services (ITS) department had a very busy Summer preparing for the 2021/22 school year. Continued COVID-19 preparations, restrictions and technology requirements have presented a level of complexity and unique work, making an ongoing high level of service an incredible challenge. ITS successfully completed many technology-related projects and initiatives that align with the Multi-Year Strategic Plan.
The report addresses the following key priority areas and accomplishments:
- Classroom Educator Devices, Hybrid Sit-Stand Desks, and Headsets (MYSP 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.iii)
- WCDSB Goes Virtual (MYSP 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.i, 3.a.iii)
- Safe Applications for Educators and Students (MYSP 1.a.iii, 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.i, 3.a.iii)
- Aspen Parent Portal (MYSP 1.a.iii, 1.b.ii)
- Distribution of Learning Devices and Internet Hotspots to Students in Need (MYSP 1.b.ii, 3.a.iii)
- Human Resources System Workflow Integration (MYSP 1.b.ii)
- Summer Preparations for the New School Year (MYSP 1.b.ii, 3.a.iii)
- Rural School Grant Project (MYSP 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.i, 3.a.iii)
- Refresh Classroom Data Projectors (MYSP 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.iii)
- Wireless Backend Upgrades (MYSP 1.b.ii, 3.a.iii)
- Bring Your Own Device (MYSP 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.iii)
- Centralized Security Optimization (MYSP 1.b.ii)
- Web Resources and Social Media (MYSP 1.a.iii, 1.b.ii, 2.a.i, 3.a.i, 3.a.iii)
Work completed in Summer 2021 includes:
- Approximately 300 new Special Education student devices were imaged and prepared for distribution
- More than 200 learning devices were repaired
- 2,998 learning devices were refreshed with new devices replacing broken and out-of-date devices no longer capable of running required instructional apps or accepting security updates
- Created 1,489 classes in Google and D2L
- Purchased and allocated 2,500 WeVideo school accounts for elementary video editing projects and 2,500 Adobe Creative Cloud licenses for secondary design related classes
- St Boniface CES (new school) security, network, wireless, projector, phones and technology setup
- Construction projects which involved removal and installing of technology at St. Louis Adult Learning, St. Kateri CES, St. Daniel CES and St. Teresa (Kitchener) CES
- Network replacement and security optimization at Resurrection CSS
- 30 new portables and classrooms were configured for data projectors, phones, network, computers and wireless.
The report is available beginning on page 8 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Summer Transition Programs
In the summer of 2021, WCDSB provided a variety of programs to support the needs of students across the system. In July, a Summer Reading Intervention Program was provided for targeted Gr. 1&2 students for three weeks to support phonological awareness, phonics instruction and to support student wellbeing. During the last two weeks of August — in collaboration with Special Education Teachers at each school site — we implemented a Student Transition to Fall Program to meet the needs of a variety of students who were identified by each school team. Furthermore, during the summer months the Mental Health Lead and Social Workers were on call to support students in respect to their mental health and well-being.
The Summer Transition Program initiatives addressed the following MYSP Key Performance Indicators (KPI) regarding student achievement, student attendance, student well-being and parent engagement:
- Increase in achievement for “marker students”
- Decrease the gap in achievement between those students on an IEP and those who are not
- Improved student attendance
As we move into the 2021-22 school year, now, more than ever we see the importance of continued investment in well-being. Our guiding principles provided by School Mental Health Ontario that shape our work include:
- We prioritize mental health and well-being as a key condition for students to learn and flourish.
- We lead with compassion and empathy and take action to address equity within mental health and well-being.
- We protect and promote student mental health with caring learning environments.
- We have strong mental health foundations to recognize and build on the learning and experiences of the pandemic.
- We make our way together; schools are part of a wider circle of support
The report is available beginning on page 22 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Student Re-engagement Strategy: 2021-22
The 2020-21 school year was like no other. Students were impacted by many school closures and the transition to online learning. Across the province many more students than in years past disengaged from their learning — exhibiting an increase in truancy, a drop in achievement and observed changes in their attitude towards school.
Many groups of students were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Students identifying as Indigenous, Black and racialized, children and youth in care, students from low-income households, those with disabilities, special education needs, mental health needs as well as English language learners were identified as those who would benefit from additional support.
This year, the Ministry of Education provided funds to school boards to increase support to families to address gaps in learning, systemic barriers and disconnection with the school community. In budget deliberations last spring the Senior Team made a decision to augment these funds in order to create a specialized team that will provide concentrated support to families and students by identifying needs and assets, collaborating with all stakeholders and supporting the development and facilitation of an individualized reengagement plan.
The Student Re-engagement Team consists of two teachers and a social worker. The team is unique as both teachers have lived experience of disengagement and systemic barriers. The social worker on the team is assigned specifically for this strategy, and the team is multi-lingual.
The team’s goals for the 2021-22 school year are to:
- Provide support to students experiencing disadvantages as a result of systemic barriers and COVID-19
- Build on existing supports by providing concentrated intervention, collaboration with stakeholders and community resources
- Develop individualized plans for students to reconnect with their school community
- Re-engage students who have languished in their learning and attendance
The report is available beginning on page 32 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Learning Commons Update
In 2017-18 staff embarked upon a 5-year plan to refresh all library spaces in the system. This project is intended to enhance global competency learning for students in environments where collaboration and innovation are the norm. Included in the scope of the refresh is a rebranding effort and name change – to The Learning Commons.
At the end of the refresh period, all learning commons spaces will be outfitted with new collaborative furniture, shelving, Lego walls, branding, and additional electrical outlets to support use of mobile devices for collaborative student work.
In 2021-22, staff will create project plans for the final ten schools: St. David, Sir Edgar Bauer, St. Luke, Holy Family, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Agnes, St. Elizabeth, St. Nicholas, St. Brigid, and St. Vincent de Paul. The latter two are new schools, built to support global competencies and will receive final touches.
The report is available beginning on page 22 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Secondary French Immersion Site Selection
The 2020/21 French Immersion Review – Final Report was presented to the Board of Trustees on Monday, May 31, 2021. The final report identified site selection criteria to guide staff in the designation of future French Immersion sites and the need to assess the potential to transport secondary FI students.
The French Immersion Review Committee identified four key priorities for the selection of French Immersion secondary schools:
- Availability of empty space
- Feeder school relationship
- Equity / range of neighbourhoods
- Long term enrolment patterns.
The site selection criteria need to balance the objectives of each element when recommending a site to start the program.
Based on the secondary French Immersion site selection criteria, staff have determined that St. David CSS in Waterloo will accommodate the first cohorts of high school FI students starting in September 2023.
Secondary French Immersion students who reside outside of the St. David CSS boundary will be eligible for transportation. Transportation will be offered to those French Immersion students who qualify, generally in accordance with the hub style option outlined herein. Transportation will not be available to Out of Boundary non-French Immersion siblings wanting to attend St. David CSS.
The report is available beginning on page 28 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Update on Major Construction Projects
The Ministry of Education from time to time solicits applications from school boards for funding to support capital projects – new schools, additions, and major renovations.
The report presented to the Board of Trustees on October 25th provided an update on three major projects funded by the Ministry:
Huron Brigadoon Elementary School, Kitchener
In March of 2020, a funding approval was provided by the Ministry of Education to construct a new 650 pupil place school and an 88-space childcare in Southwest Kitchener. This school was scheduled to open in September 2022. Unfortunately, a time lag in the Ministry’s approval processes has pushed back the school opening date to September 2023.
St. Agnes Catholic Elementary School, Waterloo
In the fall of 2020, the Ministry of Education approved funding for an 8-classroom addition, gym, and library for St. Agnes School. Construction was projected to begin in the fall of 2021 with a completion date in spring of 2022. To date, the WCDSB has not received an approval to proceed to tender for a contractor.
Grade 7 – 12 East Kitchener High School
In March of 2020, the government announced an approval for a 1,400 pupil place Grade 7 – 12 school in East Kitchener, to help manage enrolment pressures at St. Mary’s High School and at elementary schools in the area. The government has approved management’s initial space templates and has issued an approval to proceed to tender for an architect. This tender was issued on October 18, 2021. Next steps include:
- Boundary reviews will take place during calendar 2022 and 2023 to determine catchment areas for the new school
- Architect selection – November 2021
- Completion of severance by the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) and purchase of site by WCDSB – calendar 2022
- Application for site plan approval to City of Kitchener – April 2022
- Cost consultant’s report to Ministry of Education – May 2022
- Tender for contractor – June 2022
- Construction period – August 2022 to May 2024
- School opens – September 2024
The report is available beginning on page 33 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Well-Being Plan Update
The 2019-2021 WCDSB Wellbeing Plan guides our work “towards meeting the cognitive, emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs of all WCDSB students and staff, and to ensure all feel a deep sense of belonging in a Catholic faith-learning community where they are nourished to become builders of the local and global community”
Each stated goal within the plan includes strategies identified across our four domains of wellbeing – Safe Schools, Mental Health and Wellness, Heathy Schools, and Equity & Inclusion. Attention to the prayer and spiritual life of staff and students are embedded in the strategies. Each goal also identifies key performance indicators that will be used to monitor and evaluate the success of each school community in meeting the goals of overall wellbeing.
The report presented to the Board of Trustees on October 25th provided a detailed update on progress being made in each domain, as well as outline some key next steps going forward. These include:
- The WCDSB Wellbeing Strategy aligns goals outlined in our MYSP and our Pastoral Plan and includes a Catholic/Christian vision of the human person
- The WCDSB Wellbeing Strategy includes strategies for both staff and students and will assume a lens of being trauma informed
- Each school in the district will be invited to complete a Wellbeing Plan in the new year that will be shared with Family of Schools superintendents and when completed, posted on school websites
- All school level improvement plans (SIEPSAs) will develop goals from an equity lens. This proactive step supports our commitment to eliminate disparities and disproportionalities that impede achievement, well-being, and success for our students
- The MDI Survey will be administered in January 2022 and will be shared with all school administrators to help inform the specific strategic areas of focus for each school community
- The Student Census will be open for completion from November 1 to November 12, 2021
The report is available beginning on page 37 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Student Equity Advisory Committee Update
Via unanimous Board motion on March 22, 2021, the Board of Trustees directed staff – following the engagement of a new WCDSB Equity Officer – to return to the board with a proposal to create a Student Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Advisory Committee, for implementation during the 2021-22 school year.
Board staff brought forward the report on October 25, 2021.
To effectively integrate the three key concepts of student voice, meaningful student involvement and student engagement, it is recommended the WCDSB create a Student Equity Engagement Council (SEEC) at each school. Having such councils will create the conditions, employ the practices, and nurture the attitudes and values conducive for effective student voice, agency, and leadership.
Councils in elementary schools it will consist of students in grades 7 and 8 — with at least one teacher serving as an advisor. Councils in secondary schools it will consist of students in grades 9 through 12 — with at least one teacher serving as an advisor. While it is the intention for students themselves to shape the councils and ultimately be the leaders of the councils, the school board does want students to engage in the following clear and consistent mandate:
- Explore issues of inequity and exclusion within their school using their religious teachings and practice for guidance
- Engage in education activism and promote multiculturalism, gender, and sexuality equity, anti-racism, antibias in schools (e.g., creating videos, pamphlets, educational opportunities for students)
- Work throughout the school year with administrators to minimize these inequities and exclusions
- Work with the Board researcher to assess their work and their impact on their individual school communities
The SEEC members each year will attend a SEEC summit organized by students, with the assistance of teachers and administrators.
The goal is to initiate a pilot project involving 10 WCDSB schools in 2021-22.
The report is available beginning on page 46 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Update on School Re-Opening and WCDSB Pandemic Management Education Models
The start to the 2021-22 school year has been a busy one for the schools of Waterloo Catholic as we are once again operating within a pandemic reality but with that said – as we have journeyed into October — there are a number of signs to give us hope, as well as some to give us some opportunity for pause.
Our models of delivery, our processes, our health and safety protocols and essentially all aspects of our operations are informed by direction through the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province, as well as the Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Waterloo. We continue to receive direction through the Ministry of Education, as well as our local Public Health department. We are continuing meetings with Region of Waterloo Public Health and the Waterloo Region District School Board to attain a measure of understanding and alignment regarding the most prudent courses of action. We have continued to make minor updates to our Operational Guidelines based on the most recent guidance we are receiving from both the Ministry and WR Public health.
The progress report presented on October 25, 2021, includes information regarding the following key issues:
- Return to (In Person) Learning
- Vaccination for Staff & Students Aged 12-plus
- Vaccination for Students Ages 5 – 11
- Case and Contact Management
- Daily Screening
- Rapid Antigen Tests
The report is available beginning on page 52 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Board Chair’s Update
Each month, the Chair of the Board reports on the activities of the Board of Trustees. Chair Melanie Van Alphen’s report for October 2021 is available on page 59 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Student Trustees Update
Student Trustees Sarah Simoes and Sarah Wilson presented their monthly update – covering activities in WCDSB’s secondary schools. It is available beginning on page 56 via this link: Meeting Agenda Package
Upcoming Board Meetings
Committee of the Whole Board Meeting
Monday, November 8, 2021
Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre
Regular Public Board Meeting
Monday, November 22, 2021
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 185-year tradition of quality, inclusive, faith-based education. Follow us on Twitter: @WCDSBNewswire – #WCDSBAwesome.
– 30 –