As you know, return to school planning continues at the TDSB as we prepare for the return of students — both in-person and virtually — in less than three weeks. With that in mind, we want to continue providing updates to families so you have the latest information.
The Prime Minister was in a TDSB school this week to announce approximately $2 billion in back to school funding across all provinces with more than $22 million of that to be used toward our back to school planning at the TDSB. Our staff are currently assessing the new funding to determine how we can further enhance our plans for such items as smaller class sizes, more caretakers, additional cleaning for schools and school buses and additional technology to support student learning.
We have been receiving questions about ventilation in our schools. The TDSB has been working over the summer to review ventilation and filtration systems and to improve ventilation and increase the volume of fresh air to the maximum extent possible. Some of this work includes ensuring clean filters are installed prior to the start of the school year and increasing the number of times they are changed and inspected during the year, and running systems two hours before the school day to flush the building with fresh air. As you know, some of our buildings are quite old and may not have mechanical ventilation. In those cases, we will be ensuring that windows are opened to provide fresh outdoor air and will support schools where there may be unique circumstances that need to be addressed. Recently, both the provincial and federal governments announced additional ventilation-related funding. Please know that we’re working hard to confirm how much of this money can be spent prior to the start of the school year. While some improvements will be possible, given the planning, design and construction involved, any large- scale projects will require months to complete.
Managing COVID-19 in a School
This week, the Government of Ontario released the recommended process for school boards to follow in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. As per this guidance document, the TDSB takes its lead from Toronto Public Health, which is responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak, and providing direction on outbreak control measures to be implemented. It’s important to note that even though an outbreak may be declared in the school, Toronto Public Health will assist in determining which cohort(s) may be sent home or if a partial or full school closure is required based on the scope of the outbreak. For more information on this and other safety measures, visit the TDSB website.
Thank you to those of you who have already completed the registration emails and phone calls that you received this week. Knowing which students will be returning in school and which students will be taking part in virtual learning is critical for us to plan accurately for the safe return of students and staff next month. Again, the deadline to complete the online registration is Saturday, August 29. If you do not complete the online registration by the deadline, you will receive an automated phone call to complete the registration over the phone. If you do not receive an email or phone call to register by September 3, please contact your school directly to confirm your registration (in-school or virtual learning) for September. For more information about the registration process, please see the Registration page on our website and the Questions and Answers.
We have been asked to share with you this letter from the Minister of Education with some additional details on this week’s developments.
As we get closer to the school year, we remain committed to updating you with new information as it becomes available. In the meantime, we are continually updating the TDSB website with the latest information. As always, should you have any questions, please speak with your school.
Carlene Jackson Alexander Brown
Interim Director of Education Chair