Recent Communication to School Councils
School Council Operations - COVID-19 Reopening
Parent/Caregiver engagement and partnership remains a high priority for TDSB schools.
As the TDSB implements the return to school plan, staff is focusing collective efforts on the continuation of learning and the well-being of students and staff while doing our best to stay connected to family/caregivers and School Councils.
We recognize that it is not business as usual for anyone and that some families may face barriers to their participation in School Council meetings and other activities. We must try to balance these different realities in our approach as School Councils engage in activities this school year.
TDSB staff and the Parent and Community Engagement Office (PCEO) acknowledge the work of the Parent Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) in supporting School Councils and schools in developing a common understanding and direction of School Council continuation and operations.
With these important considerations in mind, the following protocols are effective immediately for School Councils:
Virtual School and Home School Parent/Caregiver Engagement
- All efforts will be made to ensure that Virtual parent/caregivers receive communications from the home school, particularly about school council elections. All schools now have access to their Virtual parent/caregiver list;
- A plan is underway to facilitate communication between Virtual School principals and parent/caregivers;
- Virtual parent/caregivers will be provided with the Parent Concern Protocol and information for connecting with staff and Principal;
- Connection between Virtual School families and home school will continue to be emphasized both at the elementary and secondary levels;
- Parent Involvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) and the Parent and Community Engagement Office (PCEO) will be developing best practices for Virtual School parent/caregiver engagement.
SC Messenger and ZOOM will be provided by TDSB during the month of September for School Councils to enable School Council Chairs/Co-Chairs/Vice Chairs an opportunity to become oriented with the tools;
- Principals are asked to activate the TDSB’s School Council Chair/Co-Chair/Vice Chair email account to ensure their access to the Council’s Zoom license and Messenger.
- Protocols for School Messenger usage by School Councils will be posted on the Principal’s page under Parent and Community Engagement;
- Principals will continue to facilitate School Council meetings using Google or Zoom. Councils will use the School Council Zoom account to facilitate executive, working group meetings as well as for community networking;
- School Messenger for School Council Chairs/Co-Chairs will be rolled out soon.
School Council executive and working group meetings may be held;
School Council meetings may be held or postponed until October, 2020;
The existing School Council membership remains in office until the date of the first meeting of the School Council after the elections (under Education Act, O. Reg. 612/00: School Councils and Parent Involvement Committees);
School Council meetings should be held virtually given the new protocols on numbers allowed to meet in person. Further guidelines will follow.
- The start date of September 22 for Virtual School required the first day of school to be changed from September 15 to September 22. With 14 days’ notice, elections of parent members of School Councils will be held within 30 days after school re-opening, will now be the week of November 1, 2020 where feasible
- Virtual school parents/caregivers are eligible to be members of their home School Council. They are eligible to hold executive positions (e.g. voting membership, chair, etc.);
- All other election/appointment of School Council non-parent/caregiver members may be held in the same timeline;
- Notifications for Council elections and nominations process may now begin;
- Schools are required to ensure that all families are informed of the School Council elections. Notice may be provided via School Messenger (phone/e-mail, virtual school newsletters, posting on website, flyers posted on school door or fence etc.). All efforts possible to notify parent/caregivers must be made although the challenges of the current Covid context may preclude paper distributions to students;
- Election notification must include a nomination form (Virtual School) or email/call-in nomination process with set date/time for the opening and the closing of nominations, date/time of the elections and the process for casting ballots;
- Election day may include advance polling at the local school (where feasible) and/or online voting in a virtual election meeting held on ZOOM, where the anonymous polling function should be used;
- It is important that the parents/caregivers have the opportunity to cast a private ballot when voting for School Council representatives.
- To ensure eligibility in virtual elections using ZOOM or Survey Monkey parents/caregivers must register in advance of the vote (ZOOM or a Google form can be used to create pre-registration form). The elections and/or elections meeting link is shared only with those who pre-register for the vote;
- In person advance polls should be set-up at the school for parents/caregivers who do not have access to a virtual platform;
- The election of parent members shall be by secret ballot using ZOOM Polling or Survey Monkey;
- Elections maybe held using the following:
- Hybrid Election – In Person & ZOOM meeting Election – In person voting will be set-up at a safe space in the school for parents/caregivers who do not have access to any virtual platforms. A record should be kept of all those who vote in person to avoid duplication and spoiling of the ballots during virtual elections. For those who have access to virtual platforms, the ZOOM platform will be used for elections/voting and will be held during a live meeting using the polling option that enables anonymous voting;
- Virtual ZOOM Meeting Election – Elections can be held using ZOOM. During an election ZOOM meeting, the anonymous polling function can be used for voting. Pre-registration is required for this option and is available via ZOOM. The meeting link should be shared only with participants. A list of pre-registrants should be available at the meeting to cross reference attendees. Meeting attendance may be managed by using ZOOM admit function;
- Virtual ONLY Voting Using Survey Monkey – An anonymous ballot can be created and distributed using Survey Monkey. All parents/caregivers will receive the ballot and asked to vote within a defined time period. Submissions are uploaded anonymously in a spread sheet. Upon completion of voting, a communication must be shared first with the successful candidates and then to parents/caregivers;
- Parents/Guardians can cast one vote for each candidate;
- A tie can be resolved by drawling lots facilitated by Principal or re-election of only those who are tied;
- If the number of candidates is less than or equal to the number of positions, the candidates will be acclaimed;
- If all elected positions are not filled, the council can appoint additional people or choose to operate with vacancies;
- The Principal along with a parent/caregiver not running for the School Council or staff, will count the votes and report the successful candidates. Councils may explore election officers, as long as ballots remain private. Election officers assist in collecting and counting ballots;
- Appointments are by majority vote.
Election for Executive Positions
- Election for executive positions on the school council whether chair, co-chair, vice-chair, secretary or treasurer is held after parent representatives have been elected to create the School Council;
- These elections should be held at the first meeting of the newly elected School Council;
- Elected members are eligible for any executive position on the School Council;
- Staff (teaching or non-teaching representative) cannot be elected into the position of chair, vice-chair or co-chair;
- Executives serve a one year term;
- Nominations for executive positions may be taken from the floor on the evening of the meeting;
- Ballots (private or otherwise) may be used.
All School Council fundraising except for the School Cash Online and online donation module and in-kind donations in compliance with TDSB fundraising policies and procedures, will be postponed until November 1, 2020. Information on cash online donation can be found at: https://tdsb.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/457/153/false/true;
We continue to follow our practice which prohibits fundraising for anything the government would typically cover.
Please note: fundraising for HEPA air filters or HVAC-related items for a specific school is not permitted. The TDSB continues to implement a number of strategies to improve ventilation in our schools, including sourcing air purifiers/HEPA filters to use in classrooms without mechanical ventilation or with limited ability to provide fresh air. Learn more about HEPA units in TDSB schools. The rentals and or purchase of tents is also not permissible at this time;
During these unprecedented times, we are called upon to act and to pivot where necessary to respond to our changing environment.
School Councils are an excellent way for you to get involved in your child’s education. Every TDSB school has an elected School Council. Your School Council is an important forum for involving parents/family and community in matters that impact the education of students.