April 27, 2020—This update provides a summary of the public meeting of the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board held Monday, April 27, 2020 online through a livestream event . It is an unofficial summary of the meeting; official minutes will be approved at the next meeting in May 2020. A recorded version will be available at the aforementioned link.
Lucille Kyle, Chair of the Board, acknowledged the First Peoples of the territory. This evening we acknowledge that the land on which we are gathered is part of the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee people. We acknowledge the land to show respect and recognize the First Peoples of the territory; their history, culture and perspectives and as a step towards reconciliation.
Character Moment of Reflection
Each Board meeting opens with a Character Moment of Reflection. At Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, Growing with Character  is our intentional focus on creating safe, caring, respectful and inclusive learning environments where students develop the foundation for good character. Growing with Character is the foundation of the school board strategic plan. Through Growing with Character, we model, teach and expect demonstrations of our eight character traits which are: Caring, Cooperation, Honesty, Humour, Integrity, Respect, Responsibility and Trustworthiness.
This evening Madison Davis, Student Trustee, Centennial Secondary School asked all to reflect on Responsibility: We have a sense of duty to fulfill commitments. We take ownership for our own thoughts and actions. We are reliable and accountable in our words and actions.
New Policy 19: Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement
Board members adopted new Policy 19: Board Improvement Planning for Student Achievement.
Each year HPEDSB creates a board improvement plan that aligns with the strategic plan and guides the development of school improvement plans. With the renewed vision of “all students first” and a focus on increasing student achievement outcomes, a policy placing student achievement as a core priority of the work of the Board is essential.
This policy establishes the following expectations for all schools and throughout HPEDSB:
- shared accountability for student achievement;
- processes leading to effective improvement planning;
- guidelines for the responsibilities of the Director of Education, senior administration and school administrators; and
- specific processes for the submission, review, and communication of:
- the Board Improvement Plan; and
- school improvement plans.
The policy will be reviewed by May 2021.
HPEDSB Pandemic Operational Report
Sean Monteith, Director of Education provided a verbal update on actions taken to address COVID-19.
Highlights from Director Monteith’s report included the following:
- The current circumstances demand leadership at the highest level
- Leadership is coming from everyone at HPEDSB: from educational assistants, secretaries, maintenance workers, teachers, to name just a few
- The Ministry of Education has extended school closures to at least May 31, 2020 with a re-evaluation expected prior to that date
- Core operations at HPEDSB are continuing in a proactive way
- Reassurance about the continuity of learning and connecting with students and families
- Over 150 different training opportunities have been available to educators and support staff; the HPEDSB Learning at Home website has had more than 150,000 hits over the past three weeks
- This week was week 4 of no-tech learning activities advertised in the weekly community newspapers
- Reminder about the need to be concerned about the stresses in households throughout the district at this time ; staff are doing whatever is in their power to meet the needs of students
- Still, the regular work is continuing: collective bargaining, staffing, budget planning
- Utilization of (the former) Quinte Secondary School by Quinte Health Care as a COVID-19 assessment centre is expanding to 30,000 square feet; the main office, library, staff room and cafeteria are being used and needed renovations are being done, paid paid for through provincial funds
Update from The Hastings and Prince Edward Learning Foundation, COVID-19 response
The HPE Learning Foundation fundraises for programs and services to help students overcome barriers and succeed in school in a non-stigmatizing way.
As of April 20, 2020, the Learning Foundation has provided support to 1,788 students through grocery gift cards valued at $104,500. An additional $32,557 has been provided to food banks for families with children by way of food product and coupons in the following amounts: $28,887 for food; $3,120 for fruit and vegetable coupons; and $550 for egg coupons.
In addition, the Food for Learning Steering Committee has approved $50,000 monthly expenditures until schools reopen. The Food for Home Program will support students during July and August with $58,000 in grocery gift cards. HPELF support to students up to the end of August will be at least $306,720.
Events that would have happened this year are postponed to 2021: Take a Bit out of Hunger, Mainly Music, Food for Learning Student Benefit Auction, and the annual Student Emergency Fund Golf Tournament.
Supporting children’s mental health in HPEDSB, COVID-19 response
Mental health service delivery changed suddenly with the onset of COVID-19. Social workers, and child and youth workers were responsive and quickly organized support systems for students, families and staff. Social workers are reaching out by telephone to students on their caseload and accepting new referrals. Child and youth workers are connecting with vulnerable families. Referrals and direct communication with collateral agencies to assist with pathways to care is ongoing.
This update provided a thorough explanation of the services being provided to students and families during school closures, including the following:
- Social workers and child and youth workers continue to provide crisis, ASIST suicide intervention services, and tragic event support to students and families including responding after the death of a parent/guardian, providing support to students after the sudden death of a former student, and supporting a family after they lost everything in a fire.
- Mental health resources and links are provided on an ongoing basis to Communications Services for posting on the HPEDSB web and social media sites.
- School staff, students and families are being provided community resources, supports and links including mental health resources, crisis lines, financial, parenting, and another supports.
- Communications Services is assisting social workers and child and youth workers with the production of videos to support student mental health and well-being.
- Food security was immediately identified as an urgent need for many families. Child and youth workers, social workers, administrators and school staff assisted with providing lists of families who may be in need, and assisting with the delivery of grocery cards.
- School staff, child and youth workers, and social workers assisted with the distribution of technology to students and families. Students and families are being supported in accessing on-line learning as our mental health teams work in collaboration with teachers.
- Tier 1 work continues through the posting of social emotional learning strategies prepared and provided for elementary schools by child and youth workers including activities and videos that can be used on Google Classroom (e.g., read alouds, mindfulness activities) from programs and resources such as FRIENDS, Stress Lessons, and Everyday Mental Health Classroom Resource. Child and youth workers worked with staff to create a collage of pictures for students and also sent cards through Canada Post to families and students with whom they have a connection.
- Social workers and child and youth workers have quickly learned Google Classroom and Google Meet and are participating in virtual staff meetings, student success team meetings, and team meetings in order to ensure there is clear communication and pathways to care for students and families. Child and youth workers have been building, populating, and maintaining a Google Document to hold and share the numerous resources that they use.
- Trauma training specific to the pandemic was provided on April 21 and 23, 2020 to HPEDSB social workers, child and youth workers, guidance heads, social workers from neighbouring boards and community partners. School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) is working with mental health leads to support and train social workers to implement virtual counselling services.
- Additional training opportunities being offered include Triple P Webinar (teach Triple P virtually), Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) for Educators Level 1, Autism course through the Geneva Centre, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) training and Infant Mental Health 101.
This report further provided an update on the 2019-2020 Mental Health and Addictions Strategy and Action Plan.
Planning for the New HPEDSB Strategic Plan
The Director of Education provided an update on planning for the new HPEDSB strategic plan. The director has been working with two aspiring leaders, Ruth Ellen Cummings, Vice-Principal at Centre Hastings Secondary School and Rob McFadden, System Lead in Student Services to review the feedback from the Thoughtexchange process. They have boiled it down to five main themes from thousands of ideas. Trustees expressed interest in meeting with the Sean, Ruth Ellen and Rob to begin synthesizing the data into strategic priorities and goals.
Planning for student trustees for the 2020-2021 school year
The Director of Education referred to Policy 3C: Student Representation on the Board and the process for selecting student trustees for the new school year (August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2021). The normal process, which requires new student trustees to be selected by April 30, 2020, will not work during COVID-19. The director asked trustees and the student trustees for their ideas on how to move forward.
Report from trustees
Highlights from this report included the following:
- The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association ratified the ETFO provincial agreement earlier this month
- The OPSBA vote for the provincial OSSTF agreement is scheduled for May 21, 2020
- The trustee representative for the OPSBA Board of Directors will be voted on at the public Board meeting in May 2020; trustees are encouraged to put their name forward
Questions from trustees
- What is the status of secondary school exams? Formal exams will not take place as per an amendment to the Education Act regulation. This applies even if schools are open after May 31, 2020.
- Can the Board of Trustees participate in a self-assessment as per Module 21 of the OPSBA learning sessions? Trustees are asked to report back to Alison Kelly about participating in a book club style of learnng.
The next public Board meeting is Monday, May 25, 2020, online through a livestream event  at 7:00 p.m.
For more information, please contact Kerry Donnell, Communications Manager, extension 62354, [email protected]