August 21, 2020

IMPT UPDATE on masks, a possible delayed start, class sizes and staggered entry

​​Dear Peel District School Board Famili​es,​

When we released the Peel District School Board’s Reopening Plans for 2020-21​, we indicated that there would likely be a need to adjust our plans as we navigate through this new way of teaching and learning. In particular, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lived experiences of students, families and staff members in different and significant ways, and this is top-of-mind for us as we make changes. We are committed to ensuring a safe and equitable return to learning and working, focused on the success and well-being of staff and students.

Today, we’d like to provide you with some important updates.

Masks/Face Coverings

To help ensure safer schools, the PDSB will be following Peel Public Health’s recent recommendation that all students in Grades 1 to 12 be required to wear a mask or face covering while indoors at school, including in classrooms and hallways. Peel Public Health has also indicated that the wearing of masks or face coverings is strongly recommended in Kindergarten. We ask that you practice mask-wearing routines at home, particularly with younger children, in preparation for reopening. Here are some tips. 

Accommodations and exemptions will apply, and more information about these will be shared on our website soon at www.peelschools.org/reopening. 

Class sizes

The PDSB will be reducing class sizes by hiring additional elementary and secondary Teachers, using PDSB reserve funds. As numbers are finalized, they will be shared with staff and families.

Staggered entry for in-person learning

In an effort to introduce students to new health and safety measures, we are reviewing the need for staggering the entry for students who will be returning in person. A staggered start will allow for a gradual return of students, and provide time for learning and adopting new routines and safety practices. Once a decision is made it will be shared with staff and families. 

Possible delayed start to the school year

To date, we’ve heard back from approximately 81% of PDSB families about their intentions to have their child(ren) return in September. We have learned that 26% of all PDSB students—about 40,000 students—will attend through distance learning only—30% of elementary students and 17% of secondary students. 

As you can imagine, this presents us with a monumental task, as a structure to support PDSB Online School does not currently exist. Building a meaningful, culturally responsive and relevant distance learning experience for this many students with diverse learning needs and identities who have already been impacted in disproportionate ways is a key priority for the PDSB. Given the complex nature of the planning required, we may see a delay to the start of the school year for students who will be enrolled in PDSB Online School. 

Students who will attend school in person may also see a delay to the start of the school year given the time and consideration required to carefully build cohorts, organize classes and prepare for a safe reopening. 

We expect we will be able to share an update with you by early next week. 

Ministry of Education and PDSB reserve funding

Ministry of Education funding will be used towards:
Teacher staffing
hiring additional Custodial staff
implementing HVAC enhancements 
purchasing cleaning supplies
implementing health and safety training
providing special education and mental h​ealth supports
distance learning

The Ministry of Education has allowed the PDSB to use up to $36 million of its reserve funds to support school reopening. This includes funding to be used to hire additional Teachers to help lower class sizes. 

Intention to Return

We understand that these changes may impact your family’s return-to-school plans. If you would like to switch your child(ren)’s learning model from in-person learning to at-home learning, or vice versa, please contact your school directly. School email addresses can be found at the top of each school website.

More regular updates

We understand that this is an unsettling time and have heard that more regular updates would be helpful. As decisions are made, we will share these with you in a timely manner. Please note that the board’s website will be updated as quickly as possible—please allow time for changes to be made.

Please note that schools will reopen on Aug. 27, 2020. In the interim, if you have questions that are not addressed in the FAQs, please email [email protected]. Given the volume of emails we are receiving, it make take a bit of time for us to respond. You may also wish to contact your Superintendent of Education.

Thank you for your continued understanding and patience as we navigate this new way of learning and teaching. Please continue to check our Reopening Plans website and FAQs​, as these resources will be updated regularly.​​​
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