As we head into orientation week, I wanted to reach out to provide an update on our return to school planning.
As you know, our district posted an online survey on Friday, August 28, to determine how many students would be returning for in-classroom instruction in September. This survey closed on Tuesday, September 1, and the results have been shared with individual school principals.
Principals have been following up with families who expressed concerns about the return to school or who indicated that their specific family circumstances would make a return to in-classroom instruction difficult. If you didn’t take the survey and your child will not be returning for in-classroom instruction in September, please contact your child’s school principal. If you did take the survey but have concerns that you did not note in your survey response, I also encourage you to reach out to your child’s school principal. These individual conversations will be critically important in helping us identify and address individual family needs.
In addition to the existing district program options I identified in my August 19 letter to families (Odyssey [K-9], Connected Learning Community [Grades 10-12], and Hospital and Homebound Support [K-12]), our school district is also offering a graduated return to school option for the month of September and beyond if required. This option may appeal to families who want a slower transition to full-time in-classroom learning for their child.
A graduated return may be a good fit, particularly for children attending elementary schools, where the family wishes to start the year with more limited attendance. As an example, for some students this may mean in-person attendance for a shorter segment of a school day, while for others, it may mean starting with some remote work but building to in-person attendance. The specifics of the plan would be shaped by the needs of the individual student/family. It is important to note, however, that although the graduated return option will keep children connected to their school and their assigned teacher, the coordination for remote/online studies will be done by teaching staff at the district level.
Student success is much greater for most students in the graduated return than in many other options because the students build and maintain those important relationships with their teacher, their classmates and their school. This connection of the student and family to the school is so important for student success. Please connect with your child’s school principal to discuss the graduated return option if you believe it may be a good solution for your family.
We have also received some questions about what the return to school process would look like for students whose families have registered in other programs outside of the school district or at other programs/schools in the school district. In such cases, students will have an opportunity to transition back into the home school at the beginning of each reporting period, and we will make best efforts to return students to their home school or program of choice. Requests for a return to in-classroom instruction during the 2020/21 school year will be accommodated following district Procedure 9200.1 Student Placement. Parents/guardians of students who want to return to their home school for September 2021 will be given first priority to do so. In such cases, parents will need to re-register their children in their home schools by December 11, 2020.
We have been working hard to plan for a safe return to in-classroom instruction and will continue to provide you with all important updates so that you remain well-informed. I know that principals shared their school-specific planning with families last week. If you have any questions about these school-specific plans, please reach out to your child’s principal for clarification. Specific school-based information regarding the organization and focus of the first days of school will be provided by school principals next week. If you have more general questions about the return to in-classroom instruction, visit the frequently asked questions section of the district website at https://www.sd42.ca/faq/. If you don’t find the answer to your question there, you can submit it through the Submit Question tab on the bottom of the page. Questions are reviewed by staff and FAQs are updated within 24 to 48 hours. If your question is not answered yet, it is because the details are still being worked out. We will continue to update the FAQs regularly as information becomes available.
We look forward to welcoming you back to our schools. I know that I speak for our elementary school principals and vice-principals as well when I say that reconnecting with so many families these past few weeks has been a pleasure. Enjoy the final weekend of summer!