Special Message from the Chair of the Board & Director of Education

March 31, 2020

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

We hope that you and your family are well and staying healthy.  Today we learned, that as a key part of the Government of Ontario response to the COVID19 crisis, that the closure to schools is extending to May 1st, 2020.  The government will continue to monitor the situation and further extensions or updates may occur.  We reiterate, that these decisions are being informed by a concern for preserving the health and safety of all, and in this regard we know that each of us shares a common goal.  Realizing that this extension of the closure was likely, and as previously communicated, both the provincial Ministry of Education and locally here at Waterloo Catholic, we have been preparing for remote teacher-led learning.

Today the Ministry released a memo that provides explicit guidance to all of us about expectations for learning.  It provides an outline of the number of hours teachers and students should engage in learning – based on their grade level.  To be clear – the suggested hours reflect both the time a teacher might use in providing formal instruction or guidance, as well as the time the student will spend completing the learning task or activity.  There is not a firm expectation that all students have to be “online” at the exact same time, although in some cases that might happen on occasion.

Both Waterloo Catholic and the Ministry of Education have been thoughtful about matters of equity, as they apply to access to technology, to internet, language barriers, students with special needs and varying home environments.  All to say – this is not a “business as usual” learning environment but at Waterloo Catholic we will strive to do our very best to ensure each student feels valued and is connected to learning.  One thing we are doing in this regard is working on Chromebook distribution to those families who indicated the need for a learning device.  Your local school will provide more detail if you are an affected family.  Deployment is happening this week.  That said – at Waterloo Catholic, our number one priority will be ensuring that each child experiences connection and that they know their teacher cares.

We would also like to draw attention to the fact that while there will be consistent expectations for students in the same grade, that optional, additional activities will also be made available to all students.  On our WCDSB board website you will find from our home page a link to WDCSBLearn@Home where a host of additional resources for all learners will be found.  We also encourage you to continue to follow the #STEAMDays hashtag where lots of fun and engaging activities are being posted.

We understand that there is added anxiety for students who are in senior grades of high school or in graduating years.  This too is something to which we are very attuned.  The Ministry has provided some direction today and there will be ongoing conversations and plans that will be communicated in relation to these students.  Certainly there is an intent that no student on track to graduate – or any student – should be negatively impacted by the current public health crisis.

Finally – we encourage you to closely follow any and all directives from our governments and Region of Waterloo Public Health.  As a global community – we have never been more connected by an event or issue and now is the time to do everything we can to ensure we can soon return to life as we knew it not so long ago.  We wish your family good health as we look ahead to Holy Week.  Please continue to remain confident that we are here to support you, as we walk together as a hope-filled community.  Our faith will be a source of comfort and strength, as will the sure knowledge that after the pain and heartache of Good Friday, comes the hope, joy and new life of Easter.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten                                                Bill Conway

Director of Education                                  Chair of the Board

St. Louis 2.0 Action during COVID-19 School Closure

Heart of the Community

In January 2020, the Waterloo Catholic District School Board announced that St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centre, Kitchener Main Campus was here to stay. This campus is the heart of our school community and we are still elated. Our students and community partners are thrilled as well! This news means continuance of service in a hub atmosphere, plans for future improvements to our buildings, innovations in our learning environments, and increased use of technology within the already many ways that learning happens at St. Louis.  

This 2019-2020 school year also marked the launch of a rebrand (of sorts) called St. Louis 2.0. This 2020 year would springboard this development work. Little did we know, COVID-19 would call us into action sooner.

St. Louis Response to COVID-19

As soon as March Break finished, senior staff at the WCDSB, as well as St. Louis staff and teachers sprung into action. ALL have been working tirelessly to move curriculum, assignments and classroom portals over to D2L. At St. Louis, we can celebrate that this week, Term 4 credit course students (slated to finish at the end of April), Hair styling/ Barber,  Culinary Arts and Personal Support Worker students, as well as existing online learners in the Correspondence program and International Languages for Credit learners have been working remotely to stay on track.  Obviously, learning from home looks very different from learning in a classroom setting — even for adults (if not moreso). Students and teachers are committed to their success and have jointly adopted the motto — “we are in this together.”

Challenged to Succeed

Let us give some perspective on why the urgency ‘to get back to it’ at our school. We have students who may only need two secondary school credits to graduate, or need that one prerequisite to get into university or college, or an entire cohort is almost finished or just started the classroom portion of a skills trade certificate program. Teachers and Program Heads have been committed to reaching out to these students. They are encouraging all students to login in to their D2L class platforms to do the work to earn their courses and to remain motivated, supported and challenged to succeed. If students want to succeed, they have to login. If they cannot login, contact your instructor.

International Language Elementary Saturday classes and evening classes have a plan to keep young language learners engaged with activities, home crafts, songs etc.

This update covers week ONE of “Back to School at St. Louis” in the wake of the Covid-19 and the government ordered school closure.

Staying Connected in the Weeks Ahead

We need to express that St. Louis is not yet prepared for any new registrations for any St. Louis programs. Our immediate focus is on current student success in their classes and programs. Guidance Services is exploring new registrations options and we will share as more information is known. 

It is our intention during the coming days and weeks to  share more details on a regular basis as developments unfold.  Visit https://stlouis.wcdsb.ca for regular updates. Share and invite others to ‘subscribe’

Next week, in particular, we continue to find solutions for 

  • Remote Tutor access for existing Secondary School Credit Correspondence learners, 
  • Connecting our instructors with learners in Core Essentials focused on literacy and basic skills development
  • How teachers can connect remotely with more students who have attended ESL /LINC
  • How co-op teachers can safely and remotely support those students whose co-op got cut short or has developed into an at-home environment
  • How do we support and monitor progress of Credits@Work students who are still working in essential services, while earning secondary school credits simultaneously.
  • What does Summer Learning look like?
  • How will you be able to register for September classes and skills training?

What Can You Do?

On behalf of St. Louis Adult Learning and Continuing Education Centres, we acknowledge that during this unprecedented time, the health of all our students, staff, as well as the local and global communities is what matters, above all else. 

Whether you are a student, staff or community stakeholder, we cannot stress enough the importance of staying home and good hand hygiene. We encourage you to keep your mind active (with your classroom work at home) in the spirit of lifelong learning, connect with others virtually or through social distancing to maintain mental well-being and most of all remain hopeful.  St. Louis is the school that brings Hope, Opportunity and Success for ALL! 

With Thanks come Blessings

We could not execute any of this action this week without the unwavering support of our colleagues at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board, so let us share a final message from our Director of Education, Loretta Notten. During this season of Lent, let us further nurture our sense of community and belonging, and let us pray that God grants us the gifts of wisdom, care and comfort. Because our faith is bigger than fear.

#CalledtoBelong

COVID-19 – Coronavirus Update

March 13, 2020

As a result of the Government of Ontario’s order for all publicly funded schools in Ontario to remain closed from March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 (https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/03/title.html), the Waterloo Catholic District School Board is taking the following actions to further assist in limiting the spread of COVID-19:

  • Effective March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 all WCDSB schools (including all St. Louis Adult Education campuses) are closed.
  • Effective March 16 all Extended Day programs are cancelled. Families registered in WCDSB operated programs will not be charged fees during this time period.
  • Effective March 14, 2020 to April 5, 2020 all Community Use of Schools permits are cancelled.
  • WCDSB Co-op placements, Dual Credit and SWAC programs are cancelled.
  • The March 23, 2020 public meeting of the Board of Trustees is cancelled. Any delegations pertaining to the St. John CES Boundary Review will be received as planned on Monday, April 6 at the regularly-scheduled Board Meeting, and again at a Special Public Board Meeting on Monday, April 20, 2020.
  • The March 26, 2020 Blessing & Dedication ceremony for the newly-renovated Waterloo Region Catholic Education Centre is postponed to a later date to be determined.

The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is always our top priority, and we will continue working with local Public Health staff to ensure our schools remain clean, safe and welcoming in anticipation of the resumption of school in April. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant regarding hand hygiene and cough / sneeze etiquette and to follow all Public Health guidance and directives.

We ask all WCDSB stakeholders to continue monitoring our special COVID-19 web page for up-to-date information (https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-coronavirus-updates/)  — and our prayers continue for all those around the world who have been or will be affected by COVID-19.

 

Tentative Collective Agreement Reached — OECTA

March 13, 2020

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association (OCSTA) and the Government of Ontario reached a tentative collective agreement. As a result, OECTA has suspended all strike activity pending ratification of the agreement.

OECTA members across the province will participate in ratification votes on Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

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