Director of Education, Lucia Reece, provided Trustees with an overview of happenings since schools closed for 2 weeks following March Break, due to COVID-19. Director Reece explained the two-week closure was intended to provide time for Ontarians to self-isolate and take care of their well-being, particularly if they had traveled over March Break. The Ministry launched an online “Learn at Home” portal to support some learning at home and ADSB also provided families with additional resources to support this transition period.
Resources have not only been to support academics, but also reminders for families about maintaining good mental health and how parents can speak to their children about COVID-19. Reece acknowledged the support of agencies like Algoma Public Health and School Mental Health Ontario in providing materials to support families. All resources can be found on the Board’s website (www.adsb.on.ca).
Staff surveys have provided many ideas about how educators and support staff might provide continuity of learning, which will inform the Board’s next steps. A survey has also been sent to parents to help determine which families can access online learning and which families may require alternative measures or support for learning to occur at home. ADSB recognizes that some families with technology limitations may not be able to access and/or reply to the survey. ADSB staff will reach out to these families in order to better understand their needs.
Following the March 31st announcement, that the closure is extended until at least May 4th, the Board is now focused on its Board Plan that will outline the continuity of learning beyond April 6th, but is awaiting some details from the Ministry of Education before finalizing. Reece acknowledged that online learning will pose challenges for some families, but that Board personnel is committed to supporting families and to finding solutions.
Secondary Organization: The total projected enrolment for the regular secondary program for September 2020 is 2998 (head-count) with a staffing complement of 256.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers. This compares to the September 2019 proposed enrolment of 2980 (head-count) with a staffing complement of 254.7 FTE teachers. For September 2020, the projected increase from the September 2019 proposed enrolment is 18 secondary students. Increase in enrolment and changes in programming resulted in an increase of 1.3 FTEteachers. The Board’s SSM Alternative Education Program (known as the Algoma Education Connection) isprojected to have an enrolment of 212 students (Headcount) in September 2020 with a staffing complement of 13.0 FTE teachers. This is status quo with no change in enrolment or FTE teaching staff from 2019-2020.
Elementary Organization: The proposed 2020-2021 organization for Grades JK to 8 includes 282 classes or 281.90 FTE teaching staff based on a projected JK-8 enrolment of 6368. The April 2019 Projections proposed 267 classes or 266.90 FTE teaching staff for an enrolment of 6247 students which equates to an increase in enrolment of 121 students. The staffing complement proposed for organizing the JK-8 classes for September 2020 will result in an increase of 15 classes or 15.0 FTE teaching staff from the April 2019 Projections. Past trends indicate that Kindergarten enrolment fluctuates significantly, therefore, these numbers will need to be reviewed as necessary over the upcoming months and classes may be reorganized in September to reflect enrolment changes and primary class size requirements.
Student Trustee Report
Student Trustees Leah and Isabella shared feedback from students who attended the annual Bon Soo Olympics. Students all confirmed it was a great time and look forward to next year’s event. (Student Trustees pictured l-r: Isabella DiBerardino, Marek McLeod and Leah Moggy at the February 2020 Bon Soo Olympics).
Leah, Isabella and Marek also shared how they are moving forward since school closures were announced in March. Each of them are reaching out to peers, friends and fellow Student Senate members and are understandably hearing mixed emotions from students. There are concerns about being able to attend graduation and some students worry about completing their year. Student Trustees are doing their best to stay connected digitally or by phone, with students who may be feeling most concerned.
Marek provided an overview of the Northern Indigenous Youth Council (NIYC) Leadership day, held in early March at Sault College. It included a workshop with TurtleConcepts which focused on a theme of “Be you. Create your own stereotype. Never let anyone deny you your true self.” The day also included speeches from and the election of the NIYC Vice-Chair for 2020/2021. Three students put their names forward and presented their speeches: Andrew Maurice, from Korah Collegiate; Miah Duplassie, from White Pines; and Manook Wilson, from Superior Heights. Manook Wilson (pictured at left)was elected and will serve as Indigenous Trustee for the 2021-2022 term. NYIC also had a booth at the “Gathering of the Rapids” Pow Wow hosted by Algoma University.