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School Building Closure WCDSB – Message from the Director

April 12th, 2021

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

As you know we have commenced our well-deserved April Break and we hope that for each of you, it is starting as well as it can under our current circumstances.  No doubt you are likely also aware, the Premier of the Province has indicated that the return to school after the April Break will be remote.  That is, on April 19th both our elementary and our secondary students will begin their continued learning virtually.  The decision is being made out of an abundance of caution.  Experience has shown us that our schools are generally quite safe.  Our protocols have served us well and the cases of COVID are not starting, nor are they generally spreading, in our schools, but we are a reflection of the community.  We have also seen an increase in the variants and they are proving more concerning.  Closing the schools to in person learning for the remainder of April will help us contain the cases that come into schools and ensure that when we return to our buildings, we are doing so in the safest manner possible.

We do not yet have a firm return date for in person learning but we know that we will pivot to virtual for a minimum of 2 weeks.  Once we have a firm return date for in person learning we will be in touch.

Just before we left for the break, out of an abundance of caution, we did make a “best efforts” attempt to send home Chromebooks with all those students for whom we had a prior request through our comprehensive survey.  If there are outstanding orders that were missed, they will be deployed upon our return on April 19th.   Schools and Extended Day programs currently remain closed and unavailable to staff, students and parents.  All school staff and teachers are on a well-deserved break and will be available for questions and updates as of April 19th, 2021.

The move to remote learning will be similar to January.  The school day will follow the bell times of your individual school and if not already received, you/your student will be given a clear indication of the daily schedule your child is to follow through your local school.  The first day back, April 19th,  will look a little different – we will treat it similar to a snow day where work will be posted to the class site.  Students will work independently.  This is to allow our staff to prepare their virtual lessons and we will start full synchronous days on Tuesday April 20th.   This will apply to St Isidore as well.

Thank you for adhering to public health and safety measures that have ensured schools remain a safe place for our students and staff.  This will be more important than ever now – both for our schools and for our community at large.  During the April Break we must adhere to the guidance to limit our contacts and social gatherings.

Once again, we encourage you to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in our community – but also please be aware that these could change depending on the most current public health advice. We also suggest checking out the WCDSB website https://www.wcdsb.ca/living-learning-looking-forward/   and Region of Waterloo Public Health website https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/health-and-wellness/2019-novel-coronavirus.aspx as they contain helpful resources and supports.  If you have any questions about what your particular school is doing, please let your school principal know upon their return on April 19th, 2021.

I will also take this opportunity to once again point out that mental health resources are available to students and families through Kids Help Phone, which offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

Vaccination does continue to roll out and while we are in the darkest of days right now, there is reason to believe there is light at the end of this dark tunnel.  Let us continue to be an Easter people, anchored in faith.  Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #InThisTogether  #WeGotThis

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

By |2021-04-12T19:03:39-04:00April 12th, 2021|News|Comments Off on School Building Closure WCDSB – Message from the Director

April Break Update

Dear #TheMightyHolySpirit,

Thank you for continuing to follow the public health and safety measures that have kept schools open and safe for students and staff. It is our collective effort that continues to ensure your children can learn in the classroom.

As per recent announcements, the province has implemented a provincewide shutdown for four weeks in response to worsening trends in key health indicators across the province.

The mental health and well-being of children continues to be a key government priority and schools will remain open for in-person learning through the Provincial Emergency and Stay at Home Order. The spring break will continue as planned, from April 12th to 16th, and schools will reopen for in-person learning on April 19th.

In light of the recently announced measures, it is more important than ever that we continue to follow health advice over the Spring Break to do our part to keep schools open, for in-person student learning.

At this critical point in the pandemic, the following  public health measures are crucial to help prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Socialize with your own household.
  • Stay home and get tested if you feel ill.
  • Participate in the targeted testing offered by your school board.
  • Screen every day, including during spring break, for COVID-19 symptoms before attending child care (the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool is available to assist families with symptom screening).
  • Practice good hand hygiene habits, masking, and physical distancing.
  • Refer to Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in our community.
  • Refrain from travelling.

During the spring break, students in Grades 1-8 can continue to engage in their own learning through supplemental, curriculum-linked activities available at TVO Learn and TFO IDÉLLO, apprendre à la maison. These rich, engaging opportunities allow students to keep up with their learning and interests. Secondary students can continue to access TVO’s Independent Learning Centre (ILC) Open House and Portes ouvertes pour les cours TVO ILC in French-language. Mathify (English) and Eureka! (French) are also available to provide one-on-one online tutoring services for elementary and secondary students. Mathify covers online math tutoring in English for Grades 6 to 10 and Eureka! supports all subjects for French-language students in Grades 1 to 12.

For the week of April 12-18, pharmacies that currently offer testing and assessment centres across the province will accept appointments from students and education staff for asymptomatic testing. The Ministry of Education will be working with school boards to offer school based clinics. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of this testing capacity to have their children tested to support a safe return to school on April 19. Children attending child care, and child care staff, will also be eligible to access this testing.

As a reminder, before coming back to school on April 19th, you must screen for COVID-19 symptoms. If your child or anyone in your household is ill, stay home and follow the guidance in the school screener.

By following public health advice, we can all enjoy a safe spring break and continue to support in-person learning in our school.

Have a safe, fun and restful break.

Sincerely,

Paul Mendonca                                Daniel Mastroianni

Principal                                            Vice Principal

By |2021-04-09T09:41:13-04:00April 9th, 2021|News|Comments Off on April Break Update

April Break Messaging – Director of Education

April 8th, 2021

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

I sincerely hope this email finds you well and having enjoyed a safe and hope-filled Easter weekend.  Today I am writing to you with some updates as we prepare for our much anticipated April Break.  It is absolutely essential that we follow the guidance of Public Health and the province in order to ensure a safe return to learning by all.

As you know the province is now in a province-wide shutdown.  For you and your family during the break, this mean only socializing within your own home, taking advantage of testing opportunities, screening everyday for symptoms and staying home if you or anyone in your family feels at all ill.  Please take this very seriously as part of our collective responsibility to each other.

As of the writing of this letter, we are expecting to be back to in person learning on April 19th.  That said, we know the landscape continues to evolve so we will send students home with Chromebooks for those who require them.  Similarly, we encourage students to take home personal belongings so school cleaning can be facilitated.  We will certainly be in communication if anything changes about our status for return on April 19th, 2021.

Yesterday we were able to communicate that a small portion of our staff, specifically our special education staff can begin vaccination.  This is a hopeful sign and it has energized us for the journey forward.   This is a critical time.  The end is in sight, but we must do our utmost to follow all guidance at this critical time so that we can have a safe, happy and healthy return to school for all.

Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #InThisTogether 

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

By |2021-04-08T11:02:22-04:00April 8th, 2021|News|Comments Off on April Break Messaging – Director of Education

Holy Spirit Parent Input Form 2021

Hello #TheMightyHolySpirit,

As we approach the end of another school year, preparations have slowly begun to ensure that our class structures are in place for September. Preparing class lists is a process that involves hours of work, on behalf of all staff, to ensure that the needs of all our students are met. Lists are fluid documents that may be changed and revised several times from now until the beginning of school in September. A great deal of thought and reflection goes into the placement of each child. Many factors are considered in student placement including: academic abilities, social groupings, and gender ratio. In addition, we consult Board and Ministry of Education guidelines including those for combined classes. 

Each new school year is a tremendous opportunity for students to meet new friends and expand their circle of acquaintances. Our goal is to place a child where they will achieve the most success academically while trying to balance their social development. A balanced class reflects the diversity and needs of our school community and all our students. 

Through collaboration and communication with support staff, classroom teachers and the special education teachers, our goal is to create classes that:

  • Are balanced with all types of learners across all classes taking into consideration academics, social factors and gender.
  • Create a positive learning and social environment for all students considering learning needs and past experiences with peers.
  • Review all students with IEPS to plan for special needs and accommodations.
  • Plan for a positive and productive transition for all students. 

Communication is essential to this process. We are seeking specific input from parents that focuses on unique needs and situations. For parents who feel their concerns are significant enough that it may impact classroom placement, we have implemented the parent input process where parents may fill out an online google form to share concerns or issues that may impact placement or transition planning. The information provided will be kept confidential and reviewed by the principal and vice principal. However, considerations for placement may need to be shared appropriately with staff assisting in class placements.

Please be clear that parents are not required to fill in this form. This form is only intended for parents who feel they need to communicate a specific concern to the school team for consideration. 

When parent input in the format below is received, the principal and vice principal will sort parent input based on special considerations. 

Special Considerations: A Special Consideration is a unique need or issue regarding a child that the principal, vice principal and school staff determine will significantly affect his/her placement. Special Considerations are intended to avoid unfavorable groupings with other children or to repeat an issue that has happened in previous years. Special Considerations may be based on the following: 

  • Significant and uncommon social, emotional or physical challenges. 
  • Past personal history with individuals that may impact your child. 

Special Considerations should take the form of one or more of the following: 

  • Identifying the accommodation needed that may affect class placement 
  • Identifying the peer that is requested as a positive support to directly address the special need 
  • Identifying a past experience that should not be repeated 

Our goal through our placement process is to work to address concerns and to identify any additional supports needed during the transition from one grade to the next. So, if you have a significant concern about your child’s placement, please follow the directions below:

  • The parent input process is not intended to provide the opportunity to request a specific teacher. Any request to be placed with a specific teacher will be disregarded and consideration will focus on the student need identified. 
  • If you submit more than one consideration, please be clear which is the most important as it is not always possible to accommodate more than one consideration. 

Please complete the Google Form below to input your request:

Click Here—-> Holy Spirit Parent Input Form – 2021 

Deadline to Complete the Form is Friday, April 30, 2021

By |2021-04-07T10:10:22-04:00April 7th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Holy Spirit Parent Input Form 2021

World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day is Friday, April 2nd, 2021. Since we are not in school, #TheMightyHolySpirit will be recognizing World Autism Awareness Day on Tuesday, April 6th, 2021 as a community.

Remember to wear BLUE!

By |2021-04-01T15:45:24-04:00April 1st, 2021|News|Comments Off on World Autism Awareness Day

Special Easter Message from the Director of Education

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

We have communicated a fair bit over the past year – certainly there have been more letters from my office than would normally be the case and we certainly know that there is a clear reason for that to be so.  The pandemic has changed our lives and has invited far more frequent communication.  Today I would like to reflect more meaningfully on just the next few days ahead.

We find ourselves in the midst of Holy Week as we prepare for the Holy Triduum.  We reflect on the fact that the only path to the joy of Easter Sunday is through the experience of the sorrow and loss of the crucifixion.  In many ways, this is an apt reflection for us as we impatiently wait for the end of our suffering and for the rebirth of our lives.  It has been a challenging year and I want to thank and acknowledge all our families for the confidence and partnership you have shown us.  We know that it has not been at all easy and there may yet be struggles ahead.

We need look no further than the example of Christ, who in His human form, prayed to God for strength and to be spared his suffering.  But God so loved the world that He gave His only son and it was through His love, that hope and rebirth was provided to all humankind.  As we look to the wondrous beauty of nature around us – as it is awakened and stirred into new life – may we know that hope is ours and that this darkness too shall pass.

I would like to take this opportunity to strongly ask that you not gather this weekend for Easter festivities.  Please confine your celebrations to your immediate family.  It is a hardship – there can be no doubt – but it is part of our collective responsibility to one another.  Please do not gather.  Please do not let children come together for play dates.  Please do not make exceptions to the guidance.  It will be a quiet Easter, but the end is in sight, and what we do now can really influence how we experience the last months of this pandemic before there is broader vaccination.

We will have more updates in the week to come, but today it is just a sincere wish for a happy and holy Easter season.  May all the hopeful jubilation that Easter Sunday brings be yours as we transition from the waiting and sadness of Lent to the unmatched joy of the resurrection.

Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #InThisTogether 

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

By |2021-04-01T11:24:12-04:00April 1st, 2021|News|Comments Off on Special Easter Message from the Director of Education

Lenten Food Drive

Hello #TheMightyHolySpirit,

We will be having a Lenten Food Drive between March 24, 2021 and April 1, 2021 to help those in need. All proceeds will go to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Thank you,

Lenten Food Drive

Thank you for your support!

By |2021-03-23T15:01:54-04:00March 23rd, 2021|News|Comments Off on Lenten Food Drive

2021-2022 Transition to Virtual School Survey

2021-2022 Transition to Virtual School Survey

Please complete the following survey for any family that wishes to choose virtual learning for next school year. The choice for virtual will be a choice for September through June, there will not be transition periods during the year.

Realizing that the landscape continues to change, we will confirm your choice with you in June (through one final survey open to all), but we will be seeking your interest now, so we can determine the demand for the virtual option.  If you register for St. Isidore, our virtual school, you will no longer be affiliated with your current home school, (for the 2021-2022 school year).  You will have the option to re-register for the following school year (2022-2023).

Survey Date: March 15th @ 9 a.m. to March 19th @ 6 p.m.
Survey Link: https://wcdsb.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2oaynXLdeB6dQZo

The link will also be available at https://www.wcdsb.ca.

If you are unsure about the difference between VIRTUAL and REGULAR school, please visit: https://www.wcdsb.ca/plan-for-re-opening-schools/#models

By |2021-03-15T08:24:00-04:00March 15th, 2021|News|Comments Off on 2021-2022 Transition to Virtual School Survey

COVID-19 Update from the Director of Education

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

Today we sit on the one year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic and tomorrow will mark one year since we were told we were going to have an extended March Break, that ultimately became our first lockdown.  A great deal has happened since then and as a community it is my sincere hope that as you look back on this past year, there are some moments of hope and joy that you can identify.   There can be absolutely no denying that the year has brought hardship and challenges to virtually everyone, but they have not been felt equally.  Some of us will have suffered more than others, will have been impacted more than others, and some will have truly struggled to find the path forward.

My hope would be that as you reflect on this past year, you are able to pray an offering of gratitude for the family and friends who have helped you through and that your faith has been a constant source of consolation.  I have prayed in gratitude for our staff who have been a rock of resilience, continually rising to the challenge to meet and serve the needs of our community and our students.  I also pray in appreciation for the many parents and students who have journeyed with us and placed their faith in us, as we did our best to find the best path forward.

As mentioned – with today being the one year anniversary of the official start of the pandemic, I choose to hope and pray that today marks an official start to some return to normalcy.  We know vaccine roll-out has begun and that by this coming fall things should look different – while perhaps not a full return to normal.  We know for schools that our year will likely begin somewhat similar to this year but as the potential for vaccines for children also rolls out, by mid-year we may be in a reality, in our schools, that is closer to what we remember.

In education our planning for the 2021-2022 school year is underway now.  We are working on staffing and budget, and need to make decisions for next year at this time.  For this reason, next week – March 15th through March 19th – we will have a survey on our Board website for any parent/family that wishes to choose virtual learning again for next year.  That said – it will be a one-time choice.  That is, there will not be transition periods during the year.  A choice for virtual will be a choice for September through June.  Realizing that the landscape continues to change, we will confirm your choice with you in June (through one final survey open to all), but we will be seeking your interest now, so we can determine the demand for the virtual option.  If you register for St Isidore, our virtual school, you will no longer be affiliated with your current home school, (for the 2021-2022 school year).  You will have the option to re-register for the following school year (2022-2023).

We know that some students have found virtual to be a good way to learn.  We do, in the main, feel that for a variety of reasons not only connected to academics, but to a young person’s social emotional well-being, that attending school in person is likely the preferred option for most students, when all things are equal.  Please give this decision careful consideration.  We will confirm with you again in June as mentioned, but we do need to know now if you believe this is an option you are seriously considering.

Once again, we encourage you to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in our community – but also please be aware that these could change depending on the most current public health advice. We also suggest checking out the WCDSB website https://www.wcdsb.ca/living-learning-looking-forward/   and Region of Waterloo Public Health website https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/health-and-wellness/2019-novel-coronavirus.aspx as they contain helpful resources and supports.  If you have any questions about what your particular school is doing, please reach out to your local school principal.

I will continue to remind all community members that mental health resources are available to students and families through Kids Help Phone, which offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province. To use this free resource, children can call 1-800-668-6868, or text CONNECT to 686868.

If there are any further updates we will certainly share them as soon as possible.  Please know that we continue to be in this together and day by day we will make it through.  It has been a year unlike any other, but I hope that for you, like me, faith has been a source of comfort and hope.  We are journeying now through Lent to the Easter Season.  How fortunate are we to know the hope, promise and new life that is awaiting us, and how that will be reflected in the spring months ahead.  Please reach out to us if you need help or guidance, and remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  #InThisTogether 

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

By |2021-03-11T12:08:29-05:00March 11th, 2021|News|Comments Off on COVID-19 Update from the Director of Education
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