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Important Special Education Update: Letter from Interim Director & Chair

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Categories: News Releases, Special Education and Section Programs

Dear Parents/Guardians and Families,


On August 21, a letter was sent to all TDSB parents/guardians with information about the return to school in September, and we are writing to you today with additional information for parents/guardians who have children with special education needs. We know you are anxious to learn more about what to expect as we open TDSB schools and welcome students back in a few weeks, so we wanted to provide you with this detailed update.


Before we begin, we want to thank you for your continued patience as we work through all of the planning required for a safe return to school and work for students and staff. It has not been an easy or straightforward process and we sincerely appreciate your continued understanding and trust as we move forward. Please know that we are doing everything we can to plan effectively for a safe return to school to keep all students, staff and families safe and healthy.


The TDSB is committed to ensuring equitable access to education, resources and opportunities for students with disabilities, and this continues to be true during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see below for additional information that is specific to students with special education needs.


Delayed Start: Tuesday, September 15

Given the time required to prepare for the safe return to school, the TDSB has moved the first day of school (for elementary, secondary and virtual school) to Tuesday, September 15.


Although the entry of all grades will be staggered over three days, all students with special education needs will begin school Tuesday, September 15. This includes all Elementary and Secondary Congregated sites, and students in Developmental Disabilities Intensive Support Programs (ISP) that are housed in secondary schools. For students with special education needs who are bussed to school, the start date will also be September 15.


Mask/Face Covering Guidelines

Although all students and staff will be required to wear masks/face coverings in TDSB buildings and on school buses, we acknowledge that some of our students will require exemptions due to medical, sensory or other reasons. Parents/guardians are asked to discuss any exemptions or accommodations required regarding masks or face coverings directly with schools.


Our Occupational Health & Safety team is working to purchase transparent masks for our staff and students who require them. Additional information about masks/face coverings will be shared with parents/guardians soon.


Learning Models



Classes in Elementary Special Education Intensive Support Programs (ISP) are capped between 6-16 students depending on the ISP program (excluding Gifted). Students will attend school 5 days per week, with one cohort/group for the full day, including recess and lunch.


This includes our six Elementary Congregated Sites: Beverley School, Lucy McCormick Senior School, Park Lane Public School, Seneca School, Sunny View Junior and Senior Public School, and William J McCordic.


We know that some students may face challenges with the enhanced health and safety protocols in place to help maximize physical distancing. To address these concerns, schools will work with families and Special Education & Inclusion Consultants to explore strategies to best support students and staff during this time.


Secondary (Grades 9 to 12)

Classes in Secondary Special Education Developmental Disabilities (DD) Intensive Support Programs (ISP) are capped at 10 students. Students are able to attend school daily as they are grouped as a cohort and can take all of their special education classes together. Students will follow the semester model.


Secondary students in ISP classes with Integration (including Gifted) who are typically timetabled into special education classes and regular school courses will attend school following the quadmester secondary school model in order to ensure on-going integration with their peers.


Secondary ISP are capped at 6-16 students. Students are able to attend as one cohort taking special education courses. Typically, these ISPs would include MID, LD, ASD, DHH and PD and would be cohorted with their peers for non-special education courses. Gifted ISP classes are capped at 30 students and will be divided into two cohorts for special education and non-special education classes. This may change locally based on school needs.


The six congregated secondary school sites where students can attend daily will follow the semester model. The congregated secondary school sites are Central Etobicoke High School, Drewry Secondary School, Frank Oke Secondary School, Maplewood High School, Sir William Osler High School, and York Humber High School.


Virtual School (Kindergarten to Grade 12)

Parents/guardians who want their children to learn from home can choose the remote learning option. For more information, please visit the website. Elementary and Secondary.


Should parents/guardians decide to begin with remote learning and decide to return to in-school learning, students will not lose their ISP placement. There will be opportunities to enter the Virtual School or to return to in-person learning at key dates during the school year. See the dates for elementary and secondary transitions. If a switch is required outside of the designated times, exceptions may be made and will be reviewed by Principals on a case-by-case basis.


Registration for In-School or Virtual Learning

This week, parents/guardians of children who attend a secondary congregated site and all students in secondary DD ISP will be sent an email asking them to register for either in-person or remote learning.


All parents/guardians, even those who have already responded to the pre-registration survey earlier this month, are required to confirm registration for their children by completing this registration.


The email will contain a unique link to an online registration form for each student and the link cannot be shared. Parents/guardians with more than one child will receive one email per child and will be required to complete a separate registration for each child. The online registration will be available in 20 different languages.


Only parents/guardians who do not have an email address on file or who do not complete the registration online will receive a registration phone call asking them to make their selection. For more information and to learn about the different registration options, we encourage all parents/guardians to visit the TDSB website.


Wednesday, August 26: Email sent to parents/guardians and registration opens

Monday, August 31: Registration closes for Congregated sites and Secondary DD ISP students


Next Steps

We will continue to keep families informed and updated in the days ahead. We continue to work closely with our Administrators, the SEAC Return to School Sub-committee, and the Staff Return to School Special Education and Inclusion Sub-Committee to ensure we include all voices and considerations. Learn more about our health and safety guidelines for schools.


We thank you once again for your continued patience as this important work continues. Please know that Principals will begin to share school-specific information directly with families as soon as possible. We know that you have many questions and concerns, and staff will continue to do their best to provide the necessary information and keep you informed.


We are in this together and we all share a common goal of ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and families. We would like the return to school to be as smooth as possible for everyone and we need to continue working together to make this happen.




Carlene Jackson                                                          Alexander Brown
Interim Director of Education                                       Chair