While learning is best face-to-face in a classroom setting, we understand the need for a plan and process for continuous learning for students in our public education system during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a temporary solution to ensure our public education system remains strong, effective, and a model for other jurisdictions around the world.
To support our members and the students in their care, the Ministry, ETFO, local boards, and unions are working collaboratively to prepare for continuous learning until the pandemic abates.
Learning Activities and Report Cards
At the elementary level, remote learning activities will begin on Monday, April 6, 2020.
No student or family will be penalized if the learning activities are not completed due to pressure and stress that families may be experiencing due to COVID-19.
The memo from the Ministry of Education makes it very clear that, “For elementary students, teachers will use formative assessment approaches to gather evidence of how students are progressing in their learning. It is expected that teachers will provide feedback to their students on their progress.”
Growing Success provides guidance to educators regarding assessment and evaluation. It will be challenging for members when they are not able to directly observe and interact with students as they would in a classroom.
ETT members will be engaging in formative assessment practices during the closure period and will not mark assignments for the purpose of collecting grades/marks that would be used on the final report card.
We anticipate further direction from the Ministry in the coming weeks on the final report card process. ETFO has asked that elementary report cards be based on data collected prior to the March Break, so that no student is penalized, if unable to complete the work assigned during the school closure.
This is an issue that ETT and ETFO will continue to raise.
We are continuing to highlight equity issues that already exist and are in discussions with the Board to ensure that online accessibility is achieved for our members and for the families of our students.
Distance learning during the pandemic is not meant to replicate or replace the full spectrum of learning that would take place during the regular school day. Many families do not have access to technology, have time, or the ability to support their children directly in their learning. Families may not have materials in their homes to support art or hands-on activities and therefore learning will look different than in the classroom. ETT members will need to be sensitive and to be as inclusive as possible in the learning activities they prepare.
Connecting with Students and Parents
ETT members will be directed by the Board to make themselves available to support students and parents in a variety of ways during the school day.
ETT members must be mindful of student privacy at all times. As such, we recommend that members not conduct live streaming sessions with students. If members are considering producing video content, it is recommended that they record and post the video for their students.
For more information about this topic, please refer to ETFO’s COVID-19 FAQ #3 [PDF].
ETT and ETFO has asked the Ministry to consider ways for the TDSB to cover expenses related to long distance phone calls, mailing, etc. These conversations are ongoing.
The Ministry is also providing a series of training webinars to support educators as they learn new online tools, such as Brightspace and Google Classroom. We have communicated to the TDSB the need for a Board approved list of platforms to engage in remote teaching and learning.
ETT understands that some members have been unable to access Key to Learn sessions, as the tutorials have been filled to capacity, and we have brought this to the Board’s attention.
We are told that there will be a flyer put out later today about additional sessions (to be made available immediately), as well as links to access previously recorded sessions.
There will also be short training video tutorials for specific tasks within online forums (e.g., create a portfolio, post a video, provide feedback). ETT and ETFO have asked that the Ministry also provide training on how to develop effective distance learning packages for students with no or limited access to technology.
Support for Special Education
The TDSB will be expected to establish processes to support students with special education needs using staff who are available, including para-professionals and education assistants. We are told that more detail is forthcoming on this and are working with the Board to ensure this is done as equitably as possible in the coming days.
The Board is also being asked to ensure that mental health workers, para-professionals, and other support staff are available to support students during this pandemic.
ETT Will Provide Regular Updates
We will continue to update you by email and through the ETT website as more information comes available.
ETT President Joy Lachica will post a video communication the morning of Monday, April 6, 2020 to communicate any new updates arising over the weekend.
Thank you for your diligence and commitment as we strive to do the best we can together to connect and guide our students in these challenging days.
ETT is with you and will be communicating regularly.