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Message from BGCDSB Senior Administration

Friday, April 3, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

As we move into Phase 2 of “learning @ home” in our Province, we want to provide you with an update and information as we prepare for Monday. We want our families to know that we understand the challenges faced as we move to Distance Learning as a result of the COVID - 19 pandemic. In creating a local plan in accordance with the Minister’s expectations, we believe that we need to go slowly and ensure we take into account the needs of our students and families as we navigate these uncharted waters. We want to assure you that we are minimizing, as much as possible, any additional stress on families.

Next week we will be distributing technology based on requests received as a result of our survey. Those families who have made such requests will be receiving information from their Catholic School Principal. To support students and families we have created virtual Distance Schools for each of our Catholic School sites. This will serve as a landing page for students and families to connect to messages from the school, to students’ classrooms, to additional learning opportunities, and to mental health supports that are available to families. There will be opportunities for families to access training videos, and a Family Help Desk for questions about our digital tools. These sites will go live Monday morning.

There are 2 ways to find the sites:
1. A link provided on the Phase 1 Community Blog. (link to Blog)
2. A button will be on the homepage of your school web page on Monday morning

As we have mentioned in our previous communications, the mental health and well-being of our students, families and staff is of utmost importance to us. Please continue to access the mental health resources that are available on our BGCDSB Blog. As well, our Mental Health Support Team members are available. To access them, you will find a link on the homepage of the new virtual school site.

For our grade 12 students who are graduating this spring, a focus in Phase 2 is to ensure that they remain on track for graduation. We fully intend on meeting the April 23rd reporting deadline to support our student applications for their chosen post-secondary destination. The province is working to ensure our students are not disadvantaged when it comes to post-secondary applications. Furthermore, the 40 hours of community service requirement for this year’s graduating class has been waived.

As we move into Holy Week, a most solemn time in our liturgical calendar, we remain hopeful that as a community, united in prayer, working together by practicing physical distancing, staying at home, and supporting our health care workers, we will be able to come through this pandemic stronger and united in our commitment to our faith and each other.

Our focus during Phase 2 is slowly moving into Distance Learning and doing so in such a way as to ensure that we are not placing extra stresses and burdens on families and communities. If you have any questions I encourage you to continue to reach out to your Catholic School Principal.

Message From The Minister of Education

Wednesday, April 1st

Please click here to view the letter from the Minister in English.

Please click here to view the letter from the Minister in French.

Message from BGCDSB Senior Administration

Tuesday, March 31st
Dear Parents / Guardians,

Today we received communication from the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce. He confirmed that schools in the province of Ontario will be closed to students from April 6, 2020 - May 4, 2020 inclusive.

As you know from previous communication, during this Phase 1, we have been preparing for teacher-led distance learning in the eventuality that this announcement would be made. Part of our initial work was finding out the needs of our families in relation to technology and we greatly appreciate those who have completed our survey. If you have not already done so, please complete the survey now using the attached link ( bit.ly/bgcdsbsurvey ). If you do not have internet to complete it, please contact your school and leave your name and a number where someone can reach you as soon as possible.

Over the next three days we will be finalizing our plans to get technology to families who requested it and making arrangements to get it to families beginning next week. To support families’ access to the internet, wifi has been directed into the parking lot of our schools in each town (Owen Sound’s location is SMHS, Walkerton’s location is St Teresa’s). Students will use their usual BGCDSB login to access the wifi so that they can download and upload content and then be able to work offline at home. The intent is that this could be done from inside your car to support continued social distancing. Should you choose to access the internet in this way, we need to all do our part to make sure that we are following our government’s direction around social distancing and refraining from gathering socially in the parking lot.

Minister Lecce indicated Provincial Guidance to facilitate Distance Learning. As such, our Catholic School Board will use the following guidelines:
Students in Gr. K-3: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, religion) Students in Gr. 4-6: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, science, social studies, religion)
Students in G. 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week (focus on math, literacy, religion, science, history/geography)
Secondary School Students: Gr. 9,10,11, 12 - 3 hours per credit per week

Please note: Students who are looking at college and university acceptances, we know students will not be negatively impacted by this closure and we will provide more information when it is available.

Now that we have direction from the Minister, we will finalize our plans and in the coming days you will receive more details about how we are moving forward for the period of Monday, April 6 - May 4, 2020. It is our intention not to overload families at this time as many are dealing with very different realities and we care deeply about the mental health and well-being of all of our students and families. To this end, we will gradually implement our plan to include the maximum hours per week as outlined by the Minister of Education. Please know we want to support you in supporting your children in their academic and spiritual growth during this closure period. There will be resources to support students and parents in understanding the digital tools we will be using. Over the past two weeks, we have been supporting our staff with professional development activities to build their knowledge of our digital environment and we will continue to do so over the coming weeks.

Finally, thank you for all that you and your family are doing to support our health care workers and our public health officials in ensuring that we flatten the curve by observing physical distancing, avoiding all non-essential travel and staying home! Please ensure that you are checking in on the elderly members in our community through phone calls and other virtual means. We all have to stay connected to support everyone’s physical and mental health and well being.

We encourage you to look out for more information in the coming days. Thank you for your patience and support as we move forward to support the learning and faith formation of our students.

Notice: Closure of School Playgrounds   COVID 19 Playground Clo Message From BGCDSB Senior Administration 

Wednesday, March 25

Dear BGCDSB Community,

I pray that this letter finds you, your family, extended family, friends and neighbours well. We are truly in exceptional times in our community in the Province of Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world. We have never experienced anything like this before and we are all navigating these waters together. As you have heard the Premier announced that schools are not likely to reopen on the planned date of April 6, 2020. At this time, we have not heard what the Ministry’s plans are for Ontario schools if, and when, schools do not reopen.

During this Phase 1, we as a Catholic School District are busy planning for that eventuality. Our staff are looking at their curriculum documents and adjusting their plans. They are learning the digital tools that we have available. They are meeting online as a school staff and will begin meeting online in smaller groups in the coming days and weeks in order to be ready to support student learning. Also, we are fully aware that there are issues of students and families having access to devices, WIFi, connectivity etc. We are working through a solution to meet everyone’s needs to ensure all of our students can access learning at home.

As we wait for further word from the Ministry of Education, we encourage those families who are able to navigate to the new Learn At Home portal to ensure continuity of learning opportunities at home during this two-week phase. We have also set up a blog of resources to support learning at home: click on this link regularly to access Ministry and BGCDSB supports as we continue to add activities and resources on an ongoing basis.

Information about further opportunities for Distance Learning will be communicated once Phase 2 has been announced by the Minister of Education.

If you are looking for ideas to support your child during this time, setting up a daily routine for them can have positive benefits for mental health. Consider setting up a visual daily schedule for your child/ren that includes time outside, chores, prayer, screen time, reading time, etc. We invite you to look at our Board Resources related to the Mental Health and Well Being of students on our BGCDSB Blog. We also encourage you to contact your Catholic School Principal should you be looking for further mental health support.

But most importantly during this time, we pray that you are safe, that you are able to spend time as a family supporting one another and supporting our community. Also, we ask that you do your part to support our health care workers and our public health officials by #flattenthecurve or #plankingthecurve. Please stay at home, avoiding unnecessary travel, and support your neighbours. If you have just returned from a March Break vacation, please, please self-isolate for 14 days. Support the safety of your community by staying home.

Once we hear from the Ministry of Education, we will reach out to you directly to let you know the next steps we will be taking.

Please continue to pray for our Health Care workers, those in public health, first responders and those in the service industries. If you have any questions please reach out to your Catholic School Principal.

FAQ For Post March Break

March 20, 2020
Dear Parents / Guardians,

I hope you are all well and you are safe with your family and friends. We are truly in uncertain times. I convey a special thank you to our custodial staff who have been working in our schools ensuring they are clean and ready for our return. Thank you for your extra efforts this week. It is truly appreciated. I also encourage you to follow the recommendations of our Public Health officials in restricting our travel and movements in order to slow the spread and lower the curve. You can still go for a walk, the weather has been absolutely beautiful!! Check on elderly family members and neighbours. Finally, please continue to pray for those who are ill as a result of this virus and pray for those in the medical community who are working to support our communities.

In an effort to ensure that you have the information you need we have created an FAQ to answer questions you may have from a school board perspective. This is not a complete list but we will continue to provide you with the most updated information as possible.

Information from the Diocese of Hamilton
We have received communication from the Diocese that all Masses and parish activities are canceled at this time. Please see the communication from His Excellency Bishop Crosby. Moreover, for those who are looking to participate in mass please go to Salt & Light television which can be accessed on TV or online.

What will Distance Learning look like post March Break?
Families and staff are asking us about learning resources for students after March break. The Ministry of Education has provided a new Learn At Home portal for families to access to ensure continuity of learning opportunities at home during this two-week phase. They have also communicated that should Public Health determine that the closure needs to extend beyond April 5, that there will be a Phase 2 plan. During this closure period, our staff is diligently planning for our students’ return as well as working with the Ministry to determine possible Phase 2 plans. We have also set up a blog of resources to support learning at home: click on this link regularly to access Ministry and BGCDSB supports as we will be adding activities and resources on an ongoing basis. Information about further opportunities for Distance Learning will be communicated should there be a Phase 2 announced by the Minister of Education.

Mental Health Support
If you are looking for ideas to support your child during this time, setting up a daily routine for them can have positive benefits for mental health. Consider setting up a visual daily schedule for your children that includes time outside, chores, prayer, screen time, reading time, etc. Please contact your Catholic School Principal should you be looking for further mental health support.

When will Schools Open?
At this time schools are still set to open on Monday April 6, 2020. Any changes to that will be communicated directly with you.

Can I go into the school and get any Materials?
No, at this time our schools are closed to everyone except to our custodial staff who are wrapping up the designated March Break cleaning. When this cleaning has finished our schools will be completely closed for the two week isolation period and will not reopen until April 6th.

EQAO / OSSLT
As per the announcement from the Minister of Education all EQAO assessments (Grade 3, 6, 9, and OSSLT) for the remainder of the school year are canceled. For students who are graduating in the 2019-20 school year, the literacy graduation requirement as set out in Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Program Requirements, 2016 will be waived.

We will continue to be in communication with you, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to connect with your Catholic School Principal.

Message From BGCDSB Senior Administration


Friday March 13, 2020

Dear Parents / Guardians,

These are truly exceptional times in the Province of Ontario and indeed our world. As you are aware, the Minister of Education issued a Ministerial Order, approved by Cabinet, closing all publicly funded schools in the Province of Ontario from March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 inclusive.

Therefore, all Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board schools, the Catholic Education Centre, and Day Care Centres operating out of our schools will be closed to all students, staff and families during that time period. Our custodial staff will be completing a deep clean of our buildings during the week of March 16, 2020 and therefore our buildings will be closed, sanitized and ready for students and staff to return on Monday, April 6, 2020.

As you are aware, this is an evolving issue and is changing daily, therefore we ask that you
continue to monitor our board website and social media for updates. All official communication and direction will be communicated to families via your Catholic School Principal, school messenger and our website. We understand that during the March Break many may not have access to the internet. However, upon your return, we ask that you do so regularly. It is strongly recommended that those traveling over the break be back in the province by March 23rd. As per communications from Public Health, it is strongly recommended that the two week period from March 23rd - April 5 this to be used for self-monitoring / self-isolation after the March break in advance of the return to school on April 6, 2020.

Thank you for your support and understanding during this time of uncertainty. I would finally ask that you offer prayers for those who are infected with COVID - 19 and their families. Also, I would ask for your prayers and special intentions for our First Responders, Doctors, Nurses, Public Health Officials, Lab Techs, etc. who are working diligently to ensure that we are all safe.

Again, I ask that you continue to monitor the Board website, our social media, and School
Messenger communications from your Catholic School Principal for further updates and needed
Information.

God Bless,
Gary O'Donnell Signature
Gary O’Donnell
Director of Education

Ministry of Education Declares Extended March Break

March 12, 2020 - The Ontario Ministry of Education has announced that all publicly funded schools in Ontario will remain closed for two weeks following the March Break. Schools are expected to be closed from March 16th and reopen on Monday, April 6th. 

We will continue to post updates and information as we receive it which will be posted on our board website as well as shared through social media.

March Break Update

March 12, 2020 - We wanted to send an update regarding the Novel Coronavirus, commonly referred to as COVID-19 in advance of the Spring Break. With the heightened news coverage and changing situation worldwide, some children and their families may be feeling anxious. Fortunately, there are currently no confirmed cases in Bruce and Grey Counties, making the immediate health risk low to our community. As a Catholic School Board, we are responding and are prepared. We are in regular contact with Grey Bruce Health Unit and with the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Ministry of Health.


What’s Happening in Our Schools?

Touchpoint cleaning with a focus on common areas such as handrails and doors continues to be our focus in our buildings, as advised by public health. During flu season, our custodial staff routinely disinfect classrooms and take extra care to sanitize common areas such as doorknobs, handrails, desks and countertops. 


Education

We take our local direction from Grey Bruce Health Unit and we are in correspondence with them regarding the Novel Coronavirus – COVID-19. Please check the Health Unit website and social media feeds for updated information. Your children’s educators are reminding students of the importance of washing their hands for an appropriate length of time to limit the spread of germs. We have posted posters throughout our schools and buildings to remind all of the importance of proper hand washing. 


Difficult Decisions Regarding High School International Trips

We have made the difficult but precautionary decision to cancel international trips for our Secondary School students. We considered several factors in making this difficult decision, including Health Canada advisories. We also took into account the real potential that staff and students could be quarantined, either overseas or upon their return to Canada. Also, we considered how these trips might impact the health and safety of our greater school community upon the students’ arrival from overseas trips.


Board-Parent Communication

We will continue to monitor the Novel Coronavirus situation in collaboration with our health partners and will continue to follow their direction. We will provide updates through our website, social media channels and directly with families through School Messenger if there are new developments.


Travel Advisories

There are several active travel health notices for COVID-19. Each country or area may have different levels of risk. These risk levels may change as the COVID-19 event evolves internationally. All travellers should be aware that there are health risks when you travel. It is important to check your destination before you leave to know the risks and to be prepared. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is recommending that Canadians avoid all cruise ship travel due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.


When You Return From Travel

PHAC says that the risk to Canadian travellers abroad is generally low but will vary depending on the destination. PHAC is closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in other countries. If you have travelled outside Canada, PHAC asks that you monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing for 14 days after you arrive in Canada. If you become sick upon your return, call Grey Bruce Public Health for further instructions. If you have travelled outside Canada, you can reduce the risk of spreading infection by following prevention measures when returning to Canada.


Staff And Students Who Have Travelled Outside Of Canada:

During the 14 days after your return, monitor your health for fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself at home as quickly as possible and contact your health care provider. If you are tested for COVID-19, please contact Grey Bruce Public Health. Describe your symptoms and document your travel history. Your health care professional or health authority will provide instructions for you to follow, including appropriate arrangements for your medical assessment.


All travellers have a responsibility to check official travel advisories and take proper safety precautions when travelling. Travellers also have a responsibility to report to Public Health if they have returned from travel and develop symptoms of COVID-19.


IN AN EMERGENCY: Individuals with severe respiratory symptoms should call 911 and advise the operator of your recent travel.


Reporting Absences

If a child will be absent from school, parents must follow our current practice and call the child’s school to report any absences as well as the reason for the absence.

Staff are to follow the board’s regular process for reporting absences.


What Can We All Do?

We encourage everyone to practice good health habits, including:

  • Get a yearly influenza vaccination, available from clinics and pharmacies (for flu only);

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer;

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze;

  • Avoid touching your face, eyes or mouth;

  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve or arm; and

  • If you or your family members are ill, stay home.


We recognize that there are communities and families who have been impacted more directly by this virus. We continue to keep the health and safety of all of our students and staff in all of our decisions and actions.

Message From Ontario's Chief Medical Officer

January 27, 2020 - Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, has shared a message for school community members.
Click here to read the letter.