Dear Peel District School Board Students and Families,
Earlier today, the Minister of Education officially announced that all publicly funded schools in Ontario will remain closed for the remainder of this school year to further prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is another necessary step to keep us safe, and one that leaves many of us with questions about what happens next, especially what happens when schools re-open next school year.
Over the next several weeks and months, we will work with the provincial government, Peel Public Health and other health agencies, Ontario school boards, and our education partners to plan for re-opening. What that will look like we still don't know. But I want to assure you that every precaution and action will be taken to ensure as safe, effective and equitable a return as possible for Peel District School Board staff and students.
As you can imagine, because of the number of unknowns and many safety considerations, this process will be complex. Although we have examples to look to outside of Ontario, we want to make the best decisions for the students and staff we serve in Peel. As always, we are committed to keeping you updated as new information becomes available and will re-connect with you when final re-opening plans are in place.
While we plan for the future, we are also committed to continuing to deliver our Community of Care: Peel District School Board's Learning and Support Plan between now and the end of June. Earlier, the Minister of Education also announced an enhanced summer learning plan to provide students with opportunities to continue their learning through the summer months should they wish to. Our understanding is that summer learning will be voluntary. We will review the Ministry of Education's announcement in greater detail in the days ahead and communicate with you when there is more specific information to share.
Our goal continues to be to support every learner, with a focus on well-being, and to not to penalize students for the circumstances that they find themselves in. As mentioned in today's announcement, all students will receive final report cards in June and all students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate.
As always, students and families should connect with teachers directly if they need support or have class/course-related questions. You can also direct questions to your vice-principal or principal, but please start with your teachers.
What we have been doing since April 6, 2020, and will continue to do, is teaching and learning during a global crisis. Our educators and support staff have done an outstanding job to enable and deliver learning from a distance, and to connect with students virtually. Make no mistake, however, that these efforts cannot and will not replace in-classroom instruction.
As we work to do our best to maintain strong connections between educators/support staff, students and families, we do so knowing that this is both heart work and hard work. We continue to be in this challenging situation together, and we must work through it with cautious optimism. We ask for your ongoing patience, understanding and grace.
We understand the impacts the pandemic is having on families and caregivers, and the pressures you're under. Our staff feel these same pressures. Staying on top of schoolwork may be the last thing you feel you have time and energy for during a pandemic. Please know that if this is how you're feeling, that's okay. We must all remember to prioritize well-being.
A reminder that you can access a number of resources to help support student, parent/guardian and staff mental health on our website. For a comprehensive list of supports available in the community, including mental health, food, financial and shelter information, view the resource created by the Peel board's Social Work Department. A list of Food Banks and Community Meal Programs in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga is also available.
You may be wondering when students/families will be able to retrieve personal items from schools. We're seeking clarification from the Ministry of Education on this and will let you know.
Please continue to check www.peelschools.org/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information, including supplementary online learning resources, mental health and community supports, and regularly updated Frequently Asked Questions.
Please take care of yourselves and each other.
Director of Education