COVID-19: DDSB Updates and Community Connections

As of May 19th, the Ministry of Education announced that all publicly funded schools in Ontario, including the Durham District School Board will remain closed for the duration of the current school year, in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The DDSB has developed a Q & A that is being frequently updated to help answer your questions. 

DDSB School Closures Q & A

Important Notice Regarding DDSB Playground Equipment
The safety and well-being of our students, staff and school communities is our top priority at the Durham District School Board (DDSB). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all playground equipment situated on DDSB schoolyards are closed. We kindly request that members of the community please stay off playground equipment, as they are not sanitized. This is critical to help protect individuals, families, and community members and stop the spread of the virus.

The following is a list of updates and resources provided for our school communities during COVID-19:

Updates to Parents/Guardians/Families from the DDSB
Tuesday, May 19:  Letter from Minister of Education to Parents

The Minister of Education announced on Tuesday, May 19 that all publicly-funded schools in Ontario will be closed for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year. The Minister of Education wrote a letter to families across Ontario about this extended closure of schools.

For your additional reference, we have also provided Ontario’s Framework for Continued Learning.

Tuesday, April 28: Letter from the Minister of Education to Parents

The Minister of Education announced on Sunday, April 26 that all publicly-funded schools in Ontario will be closed until at least May 31st, in order to allow for updated modelling and data that will inform the government’s next steps for the remainder of the school year. Earlier today, the Minister of Education wrote a letter to families across Ontario about the extended closure of schools.

Sunday, April 26:  School Closures Extended to May 31 and Additional Instructional Time for Students

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The Minister of Education has announced today that all publicly-funded schools in Ontario will be closed until at least May 31st. This decision was based on the advice of public health officials in order to allow for updated modelling and data that will inform the government’s next steps for the remainder of the school year.

The Ministry of Education will be replacing the remainder of Professional Activity (PA) days and examination days with instructional time for students. They have also announced an expanded summer learning program that will focus on credit recovery, supports for vulnerable students, and course upgrading. Once we receive additional information from the province to inform our planning, we will be communicating this information with families.

In the meantime, the DDSB has already begun preparations for summer school at the secondary level and will be opening on-line registration for summer eLearning courses on May 1st at 12 noon at www.dce.ca. We are hopeful that expanded programming choices and other registration options can take place for the current 2020 summer session, pending direction from the province and public health authorities.

I invite you to stay up to date with the DDSB’s response to the current situation by visiting our website at www.ddsb.ca where you can find frequently asked questions, important mental health, well-being and community resources, along with other initiatives that are taking place.

While we will have to wait a little longer to welcome you back to our schools, staff are pleased to continue to connect with students during this uncertain time. My sincere thanks for your understanding and support as we continue to move forward with distance learning.

Kind regards,

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education
Durham District School Board
Wednesday April 1:  Update - Schools Closed Until May 4th and Letter from the Minister of Education

On Tuesday March 31st, the Ministry of Education announced that all publicly funded schools in Ontario, including the Durham District School Board will remain closed until May 4, 2020, in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Ministry also announced the second phase of their Learn at Home plan that restores the teacher-student relationship and includes re-establishing teacher-led learning, requiring final report cards for all students, prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate, to name just a few. For more information, please read the Ministry’s press release by clicking here.

Over the last few weeks, our team has been working hard to develop the DDSB’s distance learning plan and to incorporate parental input as part of our process. We have now received additional information from the Province that will help guide our plans and we anticipate being able to share the details of our plan with you later this week.

The Minister of Education has also written a letter to parents and we wanted to share it with you. Please click here to view the Minister’s letter to parents.

While we will have to wait a little longer until we can see your children again at our schools, we look forward to engaging with your children from a distance with teacher-directed learning starting next week on Monday, April 6th.

Thank you once again for your understanding and patience as we work together during this unprecedented time. 

 

Monday, March 30:  Update from DDSB and Wellness Resources

Dear Parents, Guardians and Families,

As a new week begins, I wanted to provide you with an update on behalf of the team at the DDSB. We realize that the commitment to physical distancing and other precautions to ensure community safety can be challenging to adhere to within families. Thank you for your efforts in making that happen. In response to this challenge, the DDSB’s Mental Health and Wellness Department has created weekly resources to help support your family’s self-care and wellness. They include tips for you to help your children during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you and your family will find them helpful. The first week resources can be accessed at this link: https://www.ddsb.ca/en/family-and-community-support/your-well-being-matters.aspx

I want to thank those parents who have contributed to the Thoughtexchange process thus far. There are many thoughts you might have about priorities during this time and we welcome your input about how best to meet the needs of your children and families. For those parents who have not yet completed the survey, please take a few minutes if you can to share your thoughts with us at this link https://my.thoughtexchange.com/#683364387/. The Thoughtexchange closes on Tuesday March 31 at 11:59pm.

While we have not yet received direction from the Ministry with respect to how long schools will be closed, we anticipate that they will be closed beyond April 5th. Once we have more information we will let you know as soon as possible.

On a logistical note with most DDSB employees now working from home, it has required a complete shift in how we operate. Upon the closure, we have established five system working tables to create an infrastructure that would enable us to adapt and respond to this challenge. Our dedicated staff have since been able to ensure the continuity of our business operations and work to help protect the health and safety of our school communities. You might also notice that all DDSB playgrounds are now closed and have signage asking community members to please stay off them. This is essential to help stop the spread of the virus and we thank you in advance for your cooperation.

During the upcoming week, families are also encouraged to use the Ministry’s Learn at Home resources. These resources include new content and materials that have been uploaded this past weekend. The link for your use is https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home. Also available for you are the DDSB Optional Continuous Learning at Home materials, available at https://www.ddsb.ca/en/programs-and-learning/optional-continuous-student-learning-at-home.aspx#

As we look ahead and in anticipation that the school closure period will extend beyond April 5th, the DDSB is working to develop a robust distance learning plan for all students that includes a teacher-led instruction component. This plan will include multiple supports for students who require individualized entry points in terms of their academic strengths and technical skills. We are also endeavouring to support the learning needs of students with exceptionalities and will provide alternative programming options for them. This plan is a complex undertaking and reflects a great deal of collaboration and input between the DDSB, our labour partners and the Ministry of Education. We look forward to providing more details with you later this week in anticipation of a potential April 6th launch.

These are truly unusual times and we are striving to put together plans that will meet multiple needs. On behalf of our entire team, we thank you for your patience and ongoing support as we prepare for a variety of eventualities. We are committed to ensuring our students have excellent opportunities to continue their learning journeys and will be updating you again once we hear more details from the Ministry of Education in terms of the parameters, that will help inform our planning.

With warm regards,

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education

Friday, March 27:  Invitation to Help Shape Learning from Home

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As we continue to plan and develop resources to support your child(ren) during this time of school closures, we want to gather your input. We would like to know what you would find valuable as tools, resources and learning opportunities for your child(ren).  We recognize that families have many different needs and resources available to them and understand that learning at home will not look like a typical school day.

Using Thoughtexchange, we would like to invite you to share your thoughts on the question:

What are the most important things DDSB staff should consider when planning for learning from home, during this time of school closures?

Your participation is voluntary, you can decide if you want to answer the question.

You can participate in the Thoughtexchange by visiting this link: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/667968931

In the Thoughtexchange you will be invited to:

  • Share some information about your child(ren)'s grade and municipality.
  • Share your thoughts on the question.  All shared thoughts are anonymous.  Please do not identify yourself or other individuals in your contributions.
  • Review thoughts and give a rating (1 to 5 stars) to collectively identify the shared thought is most important or significant, collectively.

This Thoughtexchange will be open for the participation of all parents/guardians until Tuesday March 31 at 11:59 pm.

Tips for using Thoughtexchange:

  • You are able to return to Thoughtexchange as frequently as you would like to review new thoughts that have been shared.
  • If you do not want to rate a thought you can click on the three dots in the top right corner of the thought and select "Skip".

 

You can participate in the Thoughtexchange by visiting this link: https://my.thoughtexchange.com/667968931

Thank you in advance for your participation as we navigate this unprecedented situation together to help support your child's learning and growth. The feedback you provide will be an important contribution to the strategies and resources that we will be sharing with you.

 

Sincerely,

Durham District School Board

Wednesday, March 25: - UPDATE:  Next Steps and ThoughtExchange Invite

Dear Parents/Guardians/Families,

I wanted to follow up on the email that your child’s principal sent out earlier in the week. We know that each family has their own dynamics to focus upon during this time as well as questions about schooling.  As a district we are working in conjunction with the Ministry of Education during this unique period and focusing on the direction of public health while also understanding the opportunity to continue to serve our students.

The Durham District School Board is committed to sharing strategies to support your child’s learning while our schools are closed. As part of our plan to support learning at home over the first two weeks, your principal has shared with you the Ministry of Education’s Learn at Home resources which can be found at the following link: https://www.ontario.ca/page/learn-at-home.  The Durham District School Board also has Optional Continuous Student Learning from Home resources and these can be found at this link: https://www.ddsb.ca/en/programs-and-learning/optional-continuous-student-learning-at-home.aspx. Providing links to these resources is not a substitute for in-class instruction, but is our initial response in to facilitate ongoing learning for the immediate future.  We will also be uploading new videos in the parent portal that provide a range of resources that are intended to be supportive of student learning at home. We will promote these resources through social media as well as on our website.

Premier Ford has recently indicated that our schools may be closed for a longer duration than originally announced. While we don’t have further information from the Ministry of Education yet, we are planning for more robust learning opportunities. Our educators are creating resources and organizing professional development to facilitate learning in ways that will be meaningful for your children and with accommodations for those with special education needs. We are actively exploring opportunities that provide equal learning opportunities for all families, as well as taking direction from the Ministry of Education about what these programs will entail and working productively with our local teacher federations.

We will share a contingency plan of educator-facilitated learning with you as soon as it has been confirmed. However, during our planning stage, we would like to engage your voice in our strategy and preparations.  For that reason, you will be receiving a follow-up email in the coming days in which we invite you to participate in an electronic exchange of ideas with other parents and guardians, using the online platform ThoughtExchange. That email will contain more information on the process to gather your ideas. For those families who don’t have access to email, we are working to engage them so that we have the voices of as many families as possible to help inform our approach.

We realize that these are stressful times for you, your family and our entire community. One of our focus areas will be providing more resources in relation to mental health and well-being, along with meaningful opportunities for you and our students to engage with our educators. We have also created a COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions page that we are updating regularly to help answer your questions and concerns at the following link: https://www.ddsb.ca/en/resourcesGeneral/Documents/COVID-19-Public-FAQ.pdf

I would like to conclude by thanking all families who have members providing essential services to our community during this unprecedented time. We appreciate your sacrifices and contributions as we look forward to a return to more regular routines. Until then, our sincere thanks to all our families for your patience as we adjust our learning strategies for your children.

Kind regards,

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education

Durham District School Board
Friday, March 13: — IMPORTANT MESSAGE: Early Years and Child Care Programs, March Break Camps, Youth Hubs and Community Use of Schools Closed

Dear Parents and Guardians,

At the Durham District School Board (DDSB) the safety and well-being of our students and staff remain at the forefront of our decision-making. With the recent announcement of school closures from March 14 to April 5 to minimize the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the DDSB has also made the decision to close all Early Years and Child Care Programs, March Break Camps, Youth Hubs, and cancel Community Use of Schools from March 14 to April 5.

The decision to close all Early Years and Child Care programs is consistent with districts throughout Ontario and ensures our most vulnerable children and all staff are safe.

A number of further logistical details remain under consideration. We will communicate regularly as developments occur and additional decisions are made. We recognize the impact this decision can have on families, as well as the broader community.  We do appreciate your support as we move forward as a community during these challenging times.  

Sincerely,

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education 
Durham District School Board  

Thursday, March 12: — IMPORTANT MESSAGE: School Closures, March 14 - April 5

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Late this afternoon, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce made a statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 on publicly funded schools. The Minister of Education issued a Ministerial Order to close all publicly funded schools in Ontario for two weeks following the March Break, in response to the emergence in Ontario of COVID-19. This means that Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed for classes from March 14 through to April 5, 2020 (inclusive).  

A number of decisions remain under consideration, including the operations of our child care spaces. We will communicate regularly as developments occur and decisions are made. We recognize the impact this decision can have on families, as well as the broader community.

We do appreciate your support as we move forward as a community through this situation.  

Sincerely,

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education 

Durham District School Board
Thursday, March 12:  March Break Travel Considerations

Dear Parents and Guardians,

With March Break just around the corner, we are providing information from the Durham Region Health Department (DRHD) in relation to travel precautions and COVID-19. 

If you plan to travel outside Canada, the recommendations are to follow Government of Canada travel alerts and information and to avoid all non-essential travel to countries flagged as ‘high risk.’

If you return from Iran or Hubei province in China, limit your contact with others for a total of 14 days, starting the day you began your journey back to Canada. This means self-isolating and staying at home. In addition, contact DRHD within 24 hours of arriving in Canada.  Please refer to DRHD’s Facts About Home Isolation for contacts and returning travellers.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is also recommending avoiding all cruise ship travel.

All others traveling outside of Canada are advised to:

  • Monitor their health for flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, and difficulty breathing) for 14 days from the date they departed. Contact DRHD immediately if you develop flu-like symptoms.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling ill.
  • Follow the advice of your health care provider if you have been asked to self-monitor.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you are unable to wash your hands.
  • Practice good cough and sneezing etiquette by coughing and sneezing into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Wash your hands after coughing and sneezing.

Please refer to DRHD’s Facts About Home Isolation for contacts and returning travellers.

DRHD, together with provincial and federal agencies, continues to provide school boards with guidance and direction.  Currently the risk for residents of the Durham Region and Ontario remains low. If this changes and public health agencies direct additional monitoring or precautionary measures, we will let you know.

All DRHD resources, including the Facts About Home Isolation for contacts and returning travellers, are updated regularly with information about COVID-19. Their website can be found here: https://www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/novel-coronavirus-update.aspx.

We remain committed to providing you with factual updates as they become available through DRHD. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact them directly.

Sincerely,

 

Norah Marsh

Acting Director of Education 

Durham District School Board
Tuesday, March 3: Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

We wanted to share with you that the Durham Region Health Department has updated their information regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

They have reported that that there are currently two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Durham Region. Their officials have also stated that the virus is not circulating locally and the risk for Durham Region residents remains low.

The Health Department will continue to work collaboratively with the school board and school administrators if any follow-up is required within our school communities. As per standard practice, individuals who have had a potential exposure to an infectious disease including COVID-19, will be contacted by the Health Department with public health advice specific to their level of exposure.

Based on the most recent Durham Region Health Department report, please be aware:

  • Travelers returning from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea are advised to keep an eye on their health for symptoms such as a fever or cough
  • If you or a family member are ill and symptoms develop, please contact your family doctor, the Durham Region Health Department, or Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000
  • As with any illness, if you or your child is feeling unwell, it is recommended you stay home until you feel well enough to go to work or school

Within our DDSB schools and learning centres, we have a protocol of frequent and thorough cleaning.  Standard precautions, such as frequent handwashing, to prevent exposure and transmission of illnesses are also being followed.

All Durham Region Health Department resources are updated regularly. If you are seeking more information about COVID-19, and what you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy, the Durham Region Health Department website is a key resource and can be found here: https://www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/novel-coronavirus-update.aspx.

We remain committed to providing you with factual updates as they become available through Durham Region Health Department. If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact them directly at 1-800-841-2729.

 

Sincerely,

 

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education 

Durham District School Board 
Monday, January 27: Ministry of Health Letter

Dear Parents and Guardians,

The safety, health and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority. With this in mind, we are providing you with an update with regards to concerns surrounding the Novel Coronavirus (referred to as 2019-nCoV).

According to the Durham Region Health Department, the risk is low for DDSB students and staff. To date, there have been no presumptive confirmed cases of the virus in Durham Region. We are currently working with our local health partners including Durham Region Health Department, and provincial and federal health agencies in maintaining monitoring. Should the situation change, we will take appropriate action under their direction, and keep you updated.

For your reference, we have attached a recent memo from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health which provides information and links to additional public health resources.

We have also been provided with the following link to a web page from Durham Region Health entitled “FACTS About Novel Coronavirus”, which can be found at: https://www.durham.ca/en/health-and-wellness/novel-coronavirus-update.aspx 

The Durham Region Health Department has indicated that it will update this web page as appropriate.

Members of the public are advised to take measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the flu and respiratory illness, which include:

• 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 hand sanitizer

• cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze

• 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 and isolate yourself from others.

Within our DDSB schools and learning centres, we are exercising our usual high standards of diligent cleanliness, with our regular protocols of frequent and thorough cleaning. We are fully staffed to provide a complete cleaning of all facilities, every day. We are especially conscious of this high cleaning standard during flu season, and have dedicated staff performing this important function.

Once again, we are receiving direction on this Novel Coronavirus situation from the Durham Region Health Department. Should you have additional questions or concerns, contact them at 1-800-841-2729.

 

Sincerely,

Norah Marsh
Acting Director of Education
Durham District School Board 

 

Ministry of Health Letter Re: Wuhan novel coronavirus (COVID-19)

Community Information Guide - Make a Difference and United Way program

Community Information Guide

Food Banks in Durham Region
Food Banks
Crisis Help and Support Lines
Crisis Help and Support Lines

FACTS About COVID-19

The safety, health and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority. 

Members of the public are advised to take measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the flu and respiratory illness, which include:

•  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 hand sanitizer

•  cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze

•  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 and isolate yourself from others. 

More Information can be found on the following websites:

PHONE NUMBERS:

  • Durham Region Health Department at 905-668-2020 or 1-800-841-2729
  • Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000
  • Government of Canada COVID-19 Information Services at 1-833-784-4397