July 13, 2021
The Honourable Stephen Lecce
Minister of Education
315 Front Street, 14th Floor
Toronto, ON M7A 0B8
Dear Minister Lecce,
Secondary students have experienced many challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the significant uptake of vaccinations for both staff and students aged 12 and over, we are optimistic that we can move into a more normal school year in September while still maintaining appropriate health and safety measures.
By mid-summer, if vaccination rates are strong and case counts continue to remain low, we request that the Ministry of Education allow school boards to move back to a traditional semester model. To ensure effective and efficient planning, we would need to be informed by mid- August that we can safely receive students in this model.
We heard from both students and staff that the quadmester model created excessive stress and serious mental health concerns, compressed learning opportunities, and extreme challenges in keeping up should students need to miss school. When we announced in May the compromise that we were moving to a modified semester model, we still heard from our students that it presents barriers to continuous learning and curriculum retention, but also provides significant challenges in meeting the needs of our students in the special education program.
A return to traditional semesters would be welcomed by students, staff and parents. This learning model would offer students a renewed sense of normalcy, would help address learning challenges and barriers and support their mental health and well-being as we move into a post-pandemic era. The integration of online learning in classroom teaching requires a better understanding of the mental health issues and how to achieve the best outcomes without compromising student engagement.
Thank you for your consideration and commitment to the success of all students. I look forward to hearing from you.
Chair, Toronto District School Board