Letter from the Director of Education, update for returning to school in January 2021

Letter from the Director of Education, update for returning to school in January 2021
Posted on 12/31/2020

Pdf version

Dear Students, Parents/Guardians, Families and Staff:

Happy New Year! In a year unlike any other, and one with challenges we have never faced before, it perhaps is also fitting that as the Director of Education I send a letter to all families, staff and students on New Year's Eve day. Such has been the year as 2020, and with tomorrow, a new year full of hope and promise.

Communication is critical at this time. All of us are anticipating and requiring information and direction about our schools, and decisions that impact staff, families and students. In accordance with provincial direction received earlier these holidays from the Minister of Education, all elementary schools in the HPEDSB will be closed to in-person teaching and learning until January 11, 2021. Further, and again in following provincial direction, all HPEDSB secondary schools will be closed until January 25, 2021 for in-person teaching and learning.

While our elementary and secondary schools will be closed physically during these times, we will provide teaching and learning remotely. I acknowledge there are many challenges with providing virtual schooling, the least of which is to prepare over a holiday break. Now that we are required to accommodate an extended closure, we are preparing to support the best learning environments possible under these challenging circumstances.

There are many questions about remote learning. Significant planning is underway to provide technology for our families who require it, as well as to navigate challenges around broadband and Wi-Fi access for all students and staff to be able to learn and teach from home. I also acknowledge another aspect, which is supporting students with special needs across this large district.

Members of my administration and I are working to ensure that these questions, and with them, the uncertainty of parents, students and staff, are addressed. Given the timing of this being a holiday break, and the direction provided by the Ministry of Education, I feel it is important to acknowledge upfront that the first day or two of school will not look conventional or traditional, as it normally would.

Families and students can be assured that their teachers and schools will be reaching out to them on the first days of school to establish virtual contact, as we assess our ability to meet everyone's needs. All of us at the HPEDSB are committed to serving and supporting our students, in doing the very best we can during these times. It is perhaps appropriate to acknowledge, as well, that there is nothing convenient or predictable about this situation; however, we have been through these challenges during this past year and are better positioned now to respond than we ever have been before.

In closing, I strongly encourage families, staff and students to continue to monitor developments and direction as it becomes available through media, social media and school communication channels. And perhaps most importantly I want to wish all of you have a happy new year, one full of hope, promise and better days ahead.

Take care,

Sean Monteith
Director of Education