A reminder that tomorrow (Friday, April 23) is a PA Day and there is no school for all students.
This year, I’ve taken a general, less is more approach to my direct communication, recognizing that your respective email inboxes have been likely full like no other year. Your child’s teacher(s) have been the source of truly important communication this year.
As we begin to plan and anticipate the end of the school year and our “exit plan” for the virtual school, I’d like to share an update regarding a number of things.
Virtual schools are not planning any end of the year “graduation” ceremonies for students. Home schools are expected to include students from the virtual schools in any end of year transition ceremonies (Grade 8 to Highschool and Gr 5 or 6 to new Intermediate schools). Please contact your child’s respective home school for further information about transition ceremonies.
At this time, there is no direction from the Ministry of Education regarding the requirements of a virtual school for next school year. As a result, the School District is continuing with its traditional planning process for all students, teachers, and staff to return to a physical school for Sept. As more information and/or directions from the Ministry of Education are provided, the School District will adjust plans accordingly. For all our Virtual schools, at this time, we anticipate closing our schools at the end of this school year.
We will be working with our Special Education staff and classroom teachers to help ensure that physical schools are updated on the status of students while your children have been with us. However, parent(s)/guardian(s) should also be prepared to discuss your child’s particular needs in September to ensure your home school is aware of any relevant and important things while your child has been in virtual school. Generally, please wait until the start of the new school year though before contacting home schools as they will be busy finishing this school year.
If virtual schools are to be restarted in September, you should anticipate a similar process that was done this past August with parents/guardians selecting a virtual school option again.
During the school year, we have taken the safety and security of your child seriously in the virtual classroom. I’m needing to draw your attention to a particular issue that I need some help with. When your child joins a Google Meet, the classroom teacher needs to “let them in”. This prevents a stranger from joining the Meet. Over the past while, teachers have been dealing with an increasing number of visitors “requesting access” to Google Meets. This can be easily done if the link to the Google Meet is known. Teachers know not to admit anyone not belonging to the class. However, when requesting to join the meet, the person can use any name or phrase. While this is generally just a nuisance for the teacher, in some cases, the issue becomes more significant and has resulted in me contacting our IT department or the police for an investigation.
While students are never aware of or exposed to the messages sent to teachers in this event, after an investigation, it usually ends up being a student in the class or another sibling in the family who is responsible and had knowledge of the specific Google Meet link for the class.
I need to ask parents/guardians to remind their child(ren) not to be sharing the links for Class Google Meets to anyone else or attempting to “join” Google Meet classes with a hidden identity. Any police involvement resulting from inappropriate online behaviour for our students aged 12 years and older could also lead to significant consequences beyond my control.
Thank you for your support with this issue.
Over the next 2 months, teachers will be working to provide the most accurate evaluation for your child’s final report card in June. We hope to reduce the amount of “Insufficient Information” used for student grades. However, assessment and evaluation in the virtual world is a lot more challenging than in-person. Normally, teachers use observations/conversations in the evaluation process to determine grades which can be severely limited in virtual learning.
We recognize that camera and screen fatigue, attendance and engagement issues, work completion, and generalized pandemic fatigue, stress and anxiety all play significant barriers to learning this year. Please continue to reach out to your child’s teacher if your child is struggling attending, keeping their camera on, and/or completing work to see how the teacher can make adjustments and accommodations to bring more success over our remaining months of school.
We’ve all been challenged this year to stay balanced and maintain our mental health and wellness during the pandemic. We hope to help our students and families the best we can. I encourage you to review the Mental Health & Well-Being Information Sessions provided by the School District for anything of value.
Virtual School Elementary - East