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Director’s letter about schools remaining closed, continuity of learning

May 19, 2020

Subject: Continuity of learning and schools closed until the end of the school year (Pdf version)

Dear Students, Parents/Guardians, Families and Staff:

As I have with every one of my letters to you through the past two and half months, it is incumbent to begin by wishing that all of you are safe, healthy and remain hopeful. We have nothing if we do not have our health and our families; and it is both of these critical pieces of our lives that will carry us through these incredibly challenging times. As you read this important update, please remind yourself of this: health, family and loved ones, responsibility to community . . . and then education.

Today, the Ontario government announced it is keeping schools closed for the rest of this school year. This decision was made after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, and medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children.

Last week, the Minister of Education gave all school boards and Directors of Education an update on provincial “continuity of learning.” For us in the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, at the outset of this pandemic the priority was and continues to be the education for all our students and support for all our families. This support it must be mentioned, also was required to be extended and assured to all our staff, who like families share similar challenges and concerns for the future.

At the HPEDSB we have continued for the past 10 weeks to insist, that in spite of learning from home and remote learning regardless of where you live across the district, we are entirely committed to continuing to provide learning, and prioritizing learning as our main focus. Assessment, grading, marks and reporting, while important for learning for both students and their families, as well as staff, is and will remain different from the traditional sense.

It is equally important to publicly reaffirm this commitment to learning opportunities for all our students, and with clear expectations that our staff not just reach out to families, but reach all our families; this commitment is unwavering and we are resolved in meeting it. How we are providing learning and what that experience looks like and feels like, will be different than what we are all used to in the traditional sense; and this includes myself not only as the Director of Education, but as a father of two sons who continue to benefit from our public education system.

Like all educators and parents together what we want for our own children, is what we want for all Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board students. With this in mind, our approach to virtual learning remains in effect, our emphasis on student-teacher contact unchanged, and our commitment to supporting the whole needs of our families unwavering.

In short, our focus remains on learning and ensuring we are reaching all our students, and to that end I am proud of our staff and families and how we have all responded together. Our website, www.HPEschools.ca contains the most current information including tips sheets for families and educators, and perhaps most important, contact information for Kids Help Phone.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay positive,

Sean Monteith
Director of Education

Last updated: May 19, 2020 at 2:21 pm
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